Mateel Community Center Alive and Moving Forward at April Board Meeting
During April’s Mateel Community Center’s Board meeting, the Board signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for Darryl Cherney to begin actively fundraising, announced the headliners for the Summer Arts and Music Festival, and moved forward with raising funds for the Mateel’s general budget through the Mateel Meal Juice Booth.
PUBLIC COMMENT FROM THE HEALTHCARE DISTRICT
Barbara Truitt from the Southern Humboldt Community Healthcare District told the board the district is looking for the Mateel’s endorsement on the SHCHD ballot Measure F which seeks to continue the current parcel tax at the same rate for another ten years.
Truitt said the SHCHD Board has come to understand that if the district uses Measure F funds to pay for the seismic retrofit on the current building, that the depreciation on those upgrades will free up revenue to substantially offset costs of building the new hospital.
The healthcare district further understands that voters under 45 are most likely to be progressive-minded and fund the hospital but least likely to vote.
And Truitt explained the consequences of not funding the local hospital,
For Southern Humboldt to weather the current economic transition that we are in is challenging. But if we are going to weather it, and be a vibrant and sustainable community long term, we must maintain essential services.
“All over the country, when small, rural, poverty-stricken towns have stopped supporting their local hospitals, and the hospitals close down, the population shrinks, the health of the community members declines, property values plummet and business activities plummet.
“So, we have to look at the long-term and maintain this—if for no other reason, than to protect our property values and our economic sustainability.
THE MATEEL IS NOT SHUT DOWN
The Finance Report included news that the Board is moving forward with renting out its commercial kitchen to food truck vendors. One negotiation is closing, the other is still underway. The revenue from the two businesses will likely be around $3,500 a month.
And the Finance Report revealed the Mateel is generating increased revenue from co-productions. Treasurer Eryn Snodgrass described them as a “lifeblood for the Mateel right now.”
And Snodgrass described the board’s prioritization in spending.
“We just completed an audit in March. These are independent audits.” He quipped dryly, “You may have read about these in the newspaper.”
They cost us $10,000 [a piece.] We have secured the same auditor for…2016 with $5,000 and the other $5,000 is due by May 7 when he files, which is our deadline with the state, which means the suspension is no more. It already is no more. Its been temporarily lifted.
We are constantly saddled with expenses. Not to mention we try to address some debt here and there with critical vendors, either folks we need to work with for Summer Arts or… companies that may be threatening to sue us.
And then we have payroll. And although we are on “essential hours,” we are starting to see that go up now because we are working on producing Summer Arts.
Back in September when the financial crisis was originally announced, then General Manager Justin Crellin had explained part of the genesis of the problem came from spending event revenue as it came in to fund ongoing operations of the center.
According to Snodgrass’s Financial Report, the revenue from Summer Arts and Music Festival is still being accounted in the profit and loss sheet for the Mateel as a whole, rather than in a separate event budget for Summer Arts and Music Festival.
When asked how the Board was moving to get away from that cycle, Board Treasurer Eryn Snodgrass said, “Yea, we are kinda still stuck a little bit in that cycle just because we are operating in the red so deeply.”
Board President Garth Epling interjected, “We can’t escape the cycle because we have the debt.”
Snodgrass concurred, “Exactly, that’s a fair assessment.”
FINANCIAL CONSULTANT’S RECOMMENDATIONS COMING
When asked what their financial consultant had recommended, the Board said members only received the report last week and are working to digest it and to make a report out to the public on it by next week. Dusty Hughston said the Board’s report will be lifted as entire quotes without editing from the Board.
When prompted for a few examples of his recommendations, Board Member Pleasure Strange began, “Redoing our accounting, different ways of doing it and sub-categorizing.”
Epling added, “He’s recommending selling non-critical assets. He’s recommending trying to partner with another non-profit that might be able to take over that has more money than we do. There is a lot of different directions to head in.”
SUMMER ARTS AND MUSIC FESTIVAL
In the meantime, Summer Arts preparations are well underway. The Headliners will be ORGONE, a funk, soul and afrobeat group from Los Angeles on Saturday and Reggae artist Nkulee Dube on Sunday.
MATEEL MEAL JUICE BOOTH MOVES FORWARD WITHOUT THE MEAL
Community member Scott Kender addressed the Board. He had been contacted by Festival Coordinator Alisha Goodrich and asked to coordinate the Mateel Meal Juice Booth. Kender told the Board he is willing to do it and has already paid the produce debt from last year. Kender states he will advance payment for this year’s produce if he can be repaid from the receipts of this year’s sales. The Board agreed as long as the transaction happens in the accounting trailer.
The Mateel Meal Juice Booth was created to fund the Mateel Meal by Babette Bach. The Mateel Meal sub-account had about $9,000 in it when the Mateel’s financial crisis rose to the surface. That money was largely raised through the Juice Booth. When asked what happened to those funds, Board Member Dusty Houghston said, “[It went] into the general fund to repay the massive debt load incurred by programs like the meal and all the ancillary misspending that happened under our last GM.”
And Board President Garth Epling added, “Pretty much everything the Mateel is doing right now is to pay back creditors to keep the doors open and to maintain minimal staffing, which is pretty much what Scott actually said about our financial state.”
Regarding Reggae on the River 2018, the Board expects to have a full press release within the week. All the Board would say at the meeting is that the Mateel is doing the work to set up the venue and that High Times is using its own business license, not the non-profit business license of the Mateel for the Reggae on the River event.
The Board said the venture is a “Limited Partnership” and High Times is the active partner.
CONDITIONAL USE PERMIT FOR REGGAE
The Board said the Conditional Use Permit is in mid-term review. Hughston explained, “We are in a renewal year which means that we need to follow renewal guidelines that are set forth by the county. And we are hopping right along.”
Hughston said Festival Coordinator Alisha Goodrich is the Mateel’s point person for the CUP update process.
It is definitely happening. It involved getting some approval from neighboring properties, just saying they support the festival and don’t have an issue with it. These are neighboring properties that are either used or impacted by Reggae because we are at the five year mark in the ten year permit, so the Planning Commission is requiring that.
And we had to get a different engineer, site engineer because that changed, and we are basically following our operations manual from last year.
The Board signed an MOU written by Darryl Cherney who will help raise funds to pay down the Mateel’s substantial debts. Cherney was out of town but had submitted a four-page fundraising proposal/MOU. The only substantive change was deleting Reggae on the River tickets from the Season Pass the Mateel will be offering as part of the fundraising campaign.
Hughston explained why Reggae tickets cannot be included at this time,
For clarity, one of the one of the most difficult points of addressing each of these MOUs with [High Times Production] has been the additional tickets that are allocated to each individual coordinator.
That right there has been the sticking point in every one of these conversations. So we would add a whole other level of complexity to the negotiation [to do this.]