Wednesday, January 28, 2009

YMCA tightens belt


By DANA DUGAN
Express Staff Writer

In the past few months, the status of some employees at the Wood River Community YMCA in Ketchum has changed due to the economic crisis. The work hours of some of the 185 positions were cut back, while an opening for a bookkeeper, for instance, was never filled, though more than 50 résumés came in. Helped by the reduction in work hours, the Y has lost only the "equivalent of 1.5 jobs," said Teresa Beahen, Wood River Y executive director.

Beahen said that while working on the 2009 budget, the administration could foresee "a pretty significant deficit."

"A lot of people think the Y is self-sustaining, but it will probably take until the end of 2010 to cover operating expenses," she said. "The board challenged me to cut expenses so that we could continue to provide quality programs. It's to keep the whole strong."

The Y Rocks climbing gym in the basement of Blaine County Fitness Center in Hailey was closed and the staff was reassigned to shifts at the climbing wall in Ketchum.

Beahen said the gym had been operating at a deficit.

"We could reopen it, but for now we're cleaning it out," she said. "None of these decisions is easy, that's for sure."

Also, Beahen made the difficult decision to combine the Bellevue and Hailey childcare programs at Hailey Elementary School. The Bellevue staff moved to the Hailey facility.

"Interestingly enough, that increased our enrollment in the after-school program, including more Bellevue kids," Beahen said. "We also run one at Woodside Elementary. The school district was great and is providing bussing from Bellevue after school."

She said that these shifts have "impacted our staffing nominally."

One full-time position was moved to part-time, and because that employee is moving to Seattle, the Wood River Y is attempting to relocate her job to a YMCA there.

The YMCA has an open-door, sliding-scale fee policy that accepts anyone has a member. Requests for assistance are "far greater than a year ago," Beahen said. Y memberships have remained steady at about 4,500, 56 percent of whom are on the open-door policy.

Beahen also said that to ensure that all 20 of the fitness trainers kept their positions, they collectively dropped one shift plus one additional hour a week.

"It's unfortunate, but our donors, members and the community expect us to be fiscally responsible," Beahen said. "We have to do it so the Y can keep going strong."

Dana DuGan: ddugan@mtexpress.com




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