United Way cuts YMCA donation Organization cites budget problems

June 22, 1993|By Dan Thanh Dang | Dan Thanh Dang,Staff Writer

The United Way of Central Maryland has cut off its $103,000 annual contribution to the YMCA of Anne Arundel County because the organization has had trouble balancing its budget, Carol Baker, United Way director of regional services and community relations, said yesterday.

Ms. Baker said United Way officials were afraid the Anne Arundel Y, which is not affiliated with the YMCA of Greater Baltimore, was using the money to pay off debts, rather than operate programs.

"We expect that money to serve people or reduce the cost of serving those people," Ms. Baker said. "Our problem is that we weren't sure that our funds were being used to service those programs instead of paying off their debts.

"The United Way volunteers on the committees weren't certain of that so they recommended decertification and the board of directors agreed," she added.

An annual agency review conducted by a United Way committee recommended decertification for the YMCA because of the organization's inability to balance its budget and lack of strong managerial leadership, Ms. Baker said.

"They have had financial viability problems where they haven't ended their year in the black for the past several years," Ms. Baker said. "Although a number of corrective actions had been taken by the Anne Arundel Y to correct their financial problems, it was not enough to convince the committee members that United Way funding was being used properly."

The recommendations were made in March, but the YMCA appealed the decision and received an extension to solve its problems by June.

Despite the YMCA's attempts to rectify the budgetary problems by hiring new management and reducing staff size, the board of directors pulled certification Thursday, according to Emried D. Cole Jr., a member of the United Way board and certification and appeal committees.

Ken Pippen, chairman of the board for the Anne Arundel YMCA, said it was an "outrageously incorrect" idea that United Way funds were being used to pay off debts.

"We've been in the red in the past couple years, but we're coming out of it," Mr. Pippen said. "It's entirely incorrect that we would use United Way funding to pay off debts.

"We're paying our staff, we're paying our bills and we're serving our members," Mr. Pippen said. "To tell you the truth, we have been going through a rebirth by hiring a new management team and signing up new members recently.

He said the Y has been trying to correct its problems, but "it just wasn't fast enough for the United Way."

The loss of the money, about 8 percent of the organization's $1.2 million budget, will affect the YMCA's ability to subsidize day care and day camp for low-income families at its four locations in Anne Arundel, but no programs will be cut because of the loss, Mr. Pippen said. The YMCA board of directors will meet Thursday evening to discuss alternative methods of raising money.

The YMCA will continue to receive money that United Way contributors have designated for it, and both organizations will continue to work together, Ms. Baker said. In addition, the YMCA may apply for recertification after one or two years if it can prove to have good financial status, she said.

"We will continue to work with the United Way, which has been very supportive in all of this," Mr. Pippen said. "But, this Y has been here for over 120 years and we'll be here for another 120 more."

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