Dear Members and Friends,
During the AGM on June 19, 2015 the financial situation of Tatamagouche Centre was presented through the Audited Financial Statements. At that time, we were already struggling to meet our monthly payroll. The Board advised you that we were going to pursue more detailed information regarding our Cash Flow Projections for the remainder of the year, information we felt was necessary for informed decisions. During that meeting, you, the members of the Society, directed the Board to keep you informed and to share what information we had as it became available.
The Board engaged the services of Angus Bonnyman to confirm the exact financial situation of Tatamagouche Centre as of June 30, 2015, and to provide cash flow projections for the remainder of the year. Angus is a Chartered Accountant who lives in Tatamagouche and teaches at Saint Mary’s University. We are very grateful to Maritime Conference who provided the money to do this work.
On Wednesday evening, July 8th, 2015, the Board received the report from Angus Bonnyman. As of June 30th, 2015, between our line of credit with Scotia Bank, deferred revenue (grant money we received to support programs we have not yet run) and money owing to endowment funds or organizations associated with the Centre, our current indebtedness is between $275,000 and $300,000.
Further to this, Angus Bonnyman’s work with the cash flow projections indicates that even if everything this summer and fall went as planned we would increase our operational deficit to $380,000.
This means that Tatamagouche Centre is insolvent, unable to pay its debts in a timely manner.
There has been some good news. The Spirit of the East Hootenanny did very well – thank you to Av Singh, our Staff, and our Community, and to Scotia Bank who matched all the proceeds up to $5,000. We raised $12,000 and cleared nearly $10,700. And money has been coming in from the Big 6-0 Appeal – the project undertaken by Kenley MacNeill and David Stevenson to find 10 donors, or groups of donors, willing to make a donation of $6,000 each.
It is good to see such support for the Centre. Yet the Board cannot deny the weight of our financial indebtedness. We met with the Executive Leadership Team (ELT) on Saturday, July 11th to share the report with them and to talk about some of the hard choices before us. When an organization is insolvent, the law has some very clear instruction as to which creditors get paid first. To protect our staff and to comply with our responsibilities, the Board has taken control of the cheque book and the General Ledger. During the past week we have been seeking legal advice regarding laying off staff. Again, thank you to Maritime Conference for their referral. Salaries are our biggest and most relentless expense and we do not want to reach a point where we cannot pay our staff for work already completed.
The Board has had many conversations and meetings within the Board, with Maritime Conference, and with legal advisors. On July 16th, 2015, the Board has made the decision to lay off all staff effective September 30th. The staff were informed of this decision on July 17th and the notices will be delivered in person at the Centre on July 27. Any viable program or event will go forward between now and September 30th. We have already identified some programs and events in October that we want to see proceed. It is our hope to set in place a skeleton staff so that this can happen this fall. This means it will be October before we see any change in our operational expenses. We would have liked to have engaged in broader discussion with the staff and community but time has pushed us to act according to our best wisdom.
We have also begun to get Real Estate quotes for the sale of Stevens House and Reid House. It is very likely we will need to sell one or the other in order to redress our present financial challenge.
We do not do this lightly. Our line of credit with Scotia Bank is secured by Stevens House. If we cannot stay within that line of credit, the Bank is within its legal rights and obligations to foreclose on the property. We would rather sell it ourselves and perhaps realize a bit above what we owe. This is also something that takes time as we would require discussion with the community and permission from Maritime Conference before we could proceed.
We know that most of you already financially support the Centre. Your support is needed now more than ever – not for visioning or programming or mission but to pay our staff and manage our debt. We need your support and engagement. The staff have prepared a letter to go to all PAR donors and a message for our website to ensure that people understand how their gifts will be used.
There are possibilities on the horizon. The recently approved application to the Catherine Donnelly Foundation would see us engaged in a 5 year program. The proposed changes in the United Church would mean an urgent need for lay leadership development and training, something we do very well! We have our business plan for increasing hosting as a revenue stream. We are re-evaluating how to make the most of our program offerings. We have just begun to wonder and explore common purpose with organizations within the First Nations Community. We are reaching out to neighbours, building partnerships, linking our efforts to similar efforts within the local community. But none of this addresses our current losses, our struggles to find money to meet our monthly payroll and expenses.
The future holds promise. It is the present, this moment now, which needs our care and our commitment.
It is our intention to call a general meeting of the membership early in August. We are trying to find a good facilitator for that meeting and will set the date as soon as we have one. In the meantime, below is a list of Board members with their contact information. Please feel free to contact us.
With deep concern,
The Board of Tatamagouche Centre
Jennifer Graham, Co-Chair, (902) 453-1776
Theresa Halfkenny, Co-Chair, (902) 660-2780
Daniele Hart, Secretary, (902) 835-8267
Lori Crocker, (902) 329-2227
Berta Gaulke, (902) 657-1135
Andrew Jantzen, (902) 483-8899
Karen MacNeill, (506) 943-0204
Jim Wicks, (902) 368-3207