Jefferson County to provide grant to keep Gardiner Community Center open

Posted 1/27/21

Jefferson County will throw a life ring to the board of the Gardiner Community Center to help keep its financial head above water.

County commissioners have agreed to make a one-time infusion of …

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Jefferson County to provide grant to keep Gardiner Community Center open

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Jefferson County will throw a life ring to the board of the Gardiner Community Center to help keep its financial head above water.

County commissioners have agreed to make a one-time infusion of $11,000 of funding to help the Gardiner Community Center Board restore its vanishing fund balance.

At last week’s commissioner meeting, County Administrator Philip Morley told the board the community center has historically rented out the facility to raise revenues to pay for utilities and other upkeep.

At least, that’s what happens in a typical year.

“And 2020 was not a typical year,” Morley said. “Essentially, their rental revenue went away.”

Rental revenues evaporated due to the COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions on large group gatherings.

The community center is one of five owned by the county but managed by an outside entity, and the county usually contributes very little to the operation of the Gardiner Community Center.

In addition to paying utility bills, the center’s board has been able to build up its fund balance over the years with revenue from rentals.

But covering costs during the pandemic has diminished those funds.

As such, the center’s board “was on the cusp of saying, ‘Hey, we’re throwing in the towel,” Morley told commissioners.

Without a management group, the center would likely be mothballed until another group could be recruited to run it. Any follow-on organization, however, would also need stand-up funding to reopen.

County officials recently met with the secretary of the Gardiner Community Center Board to review the drawdown, the budgets for 2020 and 2021, as well as the continuing impacts of COVID-19 this year.

“2021 will essentially be a repeat of 2020, in terms of probably a good three quarters of the year will be lost to any kind of meaningful rental income for them,” Morley said.

The hope is that the spread of COVID-19 is under control later this year, and the community center can get back to some semblance of more normal operations in the final quarter of 2021.

The $11,000 community grant will help the community center board continue to operate while working to build back its fund balance of approximately $5,000 by the end of the year.

“That still gives them flexibility and some assurance that once operations have returned to more normal that they are financially stable,” Morley said.

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