Mateel Grapples With Financial Woes
The financial emergency the Mateel faces continues. However, the Board has found a co- sponsor for Summer Arts and Music Festival and believes that, of all the Mateel’s annual events, the Summer Arts Fair holds the most meaning for the community. Reggae on the River does not yet have a co-sponsor, but the Board says Reggae will only be a three-day event if it is held.
How Much Is the Debt:
The Mateel’s deficit is currently around $700,000 while its assets are worth about $850,000. Sysco Foods has filed a claim to collect $30,000 owed to it from Reggae on the River. If other creditors were to do the same, the Mateel would have to file for bankruptcy. In his President’s Report, Garth Epling expressed the Board’s determination to resolve the debts because otherwise “many people’s life’s work will have been wasted.”
Sonia Bauer has run the numbers and says that the loan on a 30 year period at 4% interest would cost about $3,000 a month but would contain the costs. She urged the Board to take this step before bankruptcy is required and added “besides, who needs these people pissing and moaning about not getting paid” after a man addressed the board to say he is still owed money for his crew leadership at Reggae on the River.
How the Debt Was Won:
According to Justin Crellin in an email to this reporter, during the period the $700,000 deficit accrued, nearly $300,000 was directly spent on infrastructure costs at the hall and French’s camp.
Crellin outlined that the hall received a new roof and had it’s stucco reapplied. The indoor stage had to be replaced. Upgrades at the hall included building the outdoor stage and its amphitheater. In addition, there was the installation of an emergency power source.
The Mateel also purchased equipment needed for off-site venues such as tents, domes, and traffic safety equipment. The goal was to save money by not renting these items.
And at French’s Camp, Reggae on the River’s venue, the Mateel replaced the septic leach field and brought a lot of infrastructure up to County code at the County’s request. This includes the stage, its ramp, its viewing stands, the kitchen, and the beer barn. Shade structures had to be designed and built. And the Mateel opted to construct a rain catchment pond to offset some of its water needs for Reggae on the River.
The deficit, outlined in the President’s Report, is $139,000 in old loans, $469,000 to Reggae on the River vendors, and $82,000 for taxes and salaries for the remainder of the year. Plus, $10,000 is needed to file the 990 tax report from the charitable trust audit. Because Reggae is such a large event, the Mateel has annual receipts over $2,000,000 a year and has to meet new requirements. Though Epling points out, the Mateel’s revenue has only been 10-15% of that budget.
The Mateel Brings Money into the Community:
The President of the Board noted that though the Mateel keeps only a small percentage of the money it processes, the Reggae budget doesn’t leave the community. The event puts $1,500,000 into the local economy and has, until now, raised the revenue to employ several local individuals while also providing a community center and all of its events and programs.
Toward resolution of the financial crisis, the Board voted to have Amie McClellan submit a grant to pay for a consultant to help them with a business plan. There is a crowd-sourced campaign underway and a lifetime membership campaign will begin soon.
And in the ‘wheel coming back around’ category: Boardmember Pleasure Strange reports that Sacco the woodcarver, whose large sculptures can be seen many places around the area, called to ask about getting his hands on some redwood to create some art for the cause. The very next day a PG&E contract crew came to remove the dead redwood next to the Mateel’s office. Strange reports he is making several size pieces from the tree, and that his art has a following and will once again raise funds for the Mateel.
During public comment at the end of the evening, the Board heard several of the members say there are trust issues, and that they cannot put their money into the Mateel until there is a clear sense of what went wrong in its previous spending and clear policy changes to prevent a future board from making the same mistakes.
However, one man did urge the Board, once that policy work is complete, to move forward energetically with a campaign to secure $5,000 and $10,000 donations. He felt some people in the community are still earning considerable incomes and said he would appeal to his friends and neighbors to preserve what the community has built in the Mateel. He stated publicly that when the policy work ensuring transparency and fiduciary restraint is done, he would pledge $10,000 to be paid if the Board secured a dozen more similar pledges.
The Hall as Shelter:
In the meantime, the Board did approve making the hall available to the Extreme Weather Shelter for homeless residents on nights the weather might lead to deaths. The only church in the area that has agreed to welcome the poor on these nights is the Baptist Church in Redway. Coordinators of the Extreme Weather Shelter report that all the other churches have said their congregations do not support such efforts. The only exception is the Presbyterian Church, but it has not yet recovered from the fire earlier this year.
Nominations were held for the Board seats. The Mateel Community Center is governed by a nine-member board of directors. Every year three seats come open for election. This year, the seats filled by Cynthia Martells, Dusty Houston, and Charlotte Silverstein are open. Martells and Houston intend to serve again if elected. Charlotte said she has been honored to serve, but her health demands she step away. In addition to Martells and Houston, nine nominations were made. Four of those nominees were present, Bruce Champee, Jameson Hutson, Andrea Pergens, and Shiloh Baker.
The nominee’s statements will be mailed to the current membership on December 5th and will be due back by January 5th. All the nominees will be on KMUD at 7 p.m. on December 13th and can be asked questions by callers.
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