By Lion Mike McIntyre
For governments at all levels 2012 appears as though it is going to be the year of “a financial reality check”. The Federal and Provincial governments are dealing with deficits that have the potential to undermine their credit ratings. It is unfortunate but the Westport Lions Club finds itself in somewhat the same predicament. Unlike government the Club cannot, in good conscience, run deficits, accumulate a debt and pass it on to the next generation of Club members.
The Westport Lions Club spent approximately $25,000.00 in the 2010-2011 Lions Club fiscal year to maintain the Lions Beach and associated property. From all sources, after expenses were paid, the Club raised approximately $21,000.00. The Club does have some reserve funds, but has had to withdraw some of them in order to help meet requests for support & the increase in operating cost. Readers will see immediately that there is no “rocket science” here: at this point in time the Club is spending considerably more than we are raising and prudence dictates that this can’t continue.
The situation the Club finds itself in might not seem so desperate if there were any sense that costs were going to decrease in the future. When was the last time that insurance costs dropped or taxes went down? Conventional wisdom would suggest that expenses are only going to increase.
There is no doubt that the Beach House property has become an expensive facility that is becoming increasingly difficult to justify. A number of years ago the Beach Property was up-graded with the addition of a kitchen and expanded washroom facilities. The plan was that these upgrades would make the Beach House more attractive to community groups and rent from events would cover costs. In all candor “the best laid plans of men and mice” have not been realized. The Beach House is not big enough for the events that many people wish to host.
The Westport Lions Club is not the only Club faced with expenses from a building and property that have become prohibitive. The Westport Club may be unique in that there is a large liability insurance cost due to the public beach portion of the property. Many Clubs are struggling to rent or other wise generate revenue from facilities in order to cover operating expenses.
The property committee of the Club is in the process of looking at as many options as possible for reducing the financial drain placed on the Club by the Beach House property. Perhaps there is a business interest that might be prepared to lease or rent the hall portion of the property? In the interest of transparency it should also be stated that the property committee will be having a professional appraisal of the property completed in the event that all else fails and it may make sense to list the property for sale.
Readers are reassured that a thorough evaluation of all the options for the Beach House will be explored. There will be an opportunity for input from the public before any final decision is made. Financial reality dictates that nostalgia and sentimentality be set aside. Decisions about the Beach House should, and will be made on the basis of fact and financial data.
Members of the Westport Lions Club remain dedicated to helping people in need. Sometimes, and we are at one of those times now, difficult decisions need to be made. When you look at the numbers our ability to help people in need is being compromised by continuing to support a facility that is not used enough to justify the expense. Lions are presently looking for new ways to maintain & operate the Beach perporty.
If you see a member of the Lions Club let him know how you feel about the situation the Club finds itself in. If you have any ideas as to what might be done share them with a Lions member. Rest assured that nothing is preordained at this point. The Club is very early in the process and all ideas and suggestions are welcome.