Boys & Girls Club looks to trim budget

Blame it on the economy.

Despite an auction that saw more items to sell, more attendees and that took in nearly as many dollars as last year, officials at the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Olympic Peninsula are looking at a budget shortfall in 2009.

Bob Schilling, executive director of the two clubs in Sequim and Port Angeles, said the slumping national economy is hurting fundraising locally, compelling club officials to raise membership dues from $24 to $30 per year and possibly trim nonessential staff in 2009.

"We have really gone through every line item, looking for something to cut," Schilling said.

The Sequim club has more than 20 people on staff, six in Port Angeles and more than 40 overall, including administrators, interns and volunteers. Their jobs are safe, Schilling said recently, but staff funding that normally goes toward staffers from such groups as Americorps or Olympic Community Action Programs will not be funded.

While the membership dues increase is final, other budget cuts are not, Schilling said, until the club board ratifies the proposed budget on Dec. 9.

The proposed 2009 club budget is about $1.06 million, a $54,000 increase from 2008. Schilling said the increase is primarily because of cost-of-living increases and new effort toward growing the Port Angeles club.

The club's auction, annually its biggest fundraiser, brought in about 500 donated items - up by more than 100 from last year - and has raised $185,000 so far, with several items still up for sale. Some of the items, such as a limited edition 2008 Ford Mustang "Bullitt" sports car with a minimum bid of $27,800 and a hot tub valued at about $6,000, still are up for auction. Stacy Ceder, resource development director and auction chairwoman, said the club has a number of items staff will sell on eBay, such as pieces of art.

But the auction raised about $12,000 less than last year's event, a fact Schilling and Ceder said can be attributed to the depressed economy.

"We knew that people wanted to give but I think people just had their limits," Ceder said. "I think that $185,000 is wonderful, that people gave at such a tough time."

The shortfall doesn't bode well for a club struggling to maintain programs for youths.

"This is going to be a tough year," Schilling said.

Founded in 1987, the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Olympic Peninsula serve about 350 youths each day at two venues: the Carroll C. Kendall unit in Sequim and the Mount Angeles unit in Port Angeles.

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