Less than a year ago, the McFarland Youth Center board reported it was facing a $7,000 deficit for 2019. Board President and Treasurer Shawn Miller asked the McFarland School District, village of McFarland and other municipalities within the school district if they would help cut that deficit.

One month ago, Miller was again in front of the McFarland School Board, reporting a $9,800 funding gap between expenses and revenues for 2020. He said the increased deficit is mostly the result of increased payroll and utilities expenses. Miller said payroll increases for good performance are typically budgeted annually. Utility costs have been trending upward in the last few years, and he said these costs may have been underbudgeted in 2019.

“In today’s dollars, it takes about $75,000 to just be able to basically open the doors with a non-professional staff for contracted hours and playing games during the hours we’re open,” Miller said during the June 3 school board meeting, adding it costs about $90,000 to keep the MYC running as it has been with structured programming.

He said if the center is unable to make up that funding difference, it may need to change its model by cutting a combination of operating and staff hours.

“By doing this, we’d also be forced to reduce the quality of the programming we offer, going from robust ‘asset building’ planned programming, to become more of an open-door rec center,” Miller said. “This is not the direction the MYC board wants to see our programming take in the future. If anything, we’d love to expand/build upon the structured programming we’ve developed over the last 10 years.”

Miller said the 2019 deficit was decreased after a local couple, who wanted to remain anonymous, donated $5,500 through a one-time stock liquidation. Additionally, the MYC operating budget eliminated spending on transportation.

“This meant that MYC did not pursue/procure a vehicle that would be used for transportation on field trips,” Miller said. “As in previous years, this lack of transportation means that MYC is very limited in what it can offer for field trips. Specifically, this really reduces our opportunities to get out in the community to participate in service projects.”

During the June 17 school board meeting, Superintendent Andrew Briddell said the cleanest way to provide the requested amount of money to the MYC would be if at the July 15 annual meeting, an elector suggests increasing fund 80 (the community service fund) by $9,800 to accommodate the request.

District business manager Jeff Mahoney said during the last few years, fund 80 has been a $394,365 levy, which supports the community pool, school resource officer and a portion of the buildings and grounds department. Money from the fund is also used to pay $40,250 to the village for the purchase of a portion of the elementary campus site, which had been owned by the village. That amount is then directed from the village to the MYC.

According to Miller’s presentation, prior to 2017, the year of the property purchase agreement, the village had contributed $25,000 per year to the center.

“The current community service fund levy … for a $300,000 home would be $80.71 just for community recreation outside of school operations,” Mahoney said.

He said if $10,000 was added to the fund, the owner of a $300,000 home would pay an extra $2 annually.

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