By Alex Bridges -- firstname.lastname@example.org
FRONT ROYAL -- The Shenandoah Area Agency on Aging may seek outside aid to secure bigger, corporate donors in an effort to erase its lingering debt.
Agency officials on Friday suggested the SAAA consider Sue Vantine, a Clarke County woman familiar with the organization and experienced in raising money through corporations. Robert Haas, director of transportation for the agency, and others lauded Vantine as someone with an "impressive" resume they feel could help the SAAA find donors willing to make large contributions.
Officials said the fundraiser likely would be contracted to provide the service. Board members said the service would be well worth the $60,000-$70,000 price if the fundraiser can secure large-enough donors.
The agency remains approximately $600,000 in debt to lenders and accountants. The amount includes attorneys fees accrued as the agency defended itself in lawsuits against former top officials Ann McIntyre and Helen Cockrell, the latter of which the parties recently settled.
Board Chairman John Hudson, a vice president with the Bank of Clarke County, explained the agency's debt to lenders does not pose an immediate threat. The agency continues to pay down the interest on the lines of credit.
However, the agency needs to pay off the existing bills such as the attorneys fees as well as debt accrued under the previous administration which also sparked an ongoing criminal probe by the Virginia State Police and the Clarke County Commonwealth's Attorney.
Hudson noted he proposed to staff that the agency hold a fundraiser for the specific purpose of paying off the short-term debt. The fear remains that donors may not want to give money for that purpose if it doesn't go to services to the elderly.
"Be totally up front with the public, say 'we have this debt, we have no visible way at the moment to retire this debt' and not affect our services," Hudson said.
The agency owes $41,000 to the accounting firm Yount, Hyde and Barbour which performs its audit and other services; $15,000 to the law firm of Lenhart Obenshain and $10,000 to attorney Benjamin Butler, according to SAAA Director of Operations Jonathan Price said. The agency owes more money to Valley Health. However, the SAAA has a $200,000 loan to pay off on its building, plus a $100,000 line of credit through BB&T bank.
The SAAA continues to make progress on reconciling its debt while working with less money. Hudson noted the agency, while operating under a fiscal budget of $3.1 million, showed as of Friday, had expenses of $1.9 million in revenue and $1.8 million in expenses. The fiscal year ends Sept. 30. Hudson explained the agency came in under budget by $1.2 million.
"I'd say that's remarkable," said outgoing board member Dr. Robert Kendall.
Also at the meeting the SAAA board:
* Voted to eliminate the agency's RSVP program which helps recruit volunteers ages 55 and older to assist at dozens of organizations and facilities, or stations, across the service area.
* Approved its fiscal 2013 budget.
* Accepted Jim Edwards as a member of the board to replace Clarke County Sheriff Anthony "Tony" Roper as a representative of that locality. Edwards begins his service in October.
* Learned of Teresa Strohmeyer's reappointment by the Frederick County Board of Supervisors as a representative for that locality.