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Archive for Thursday, July 22, 1993

SENIOR CENTER PATRONS PAN RISING ADMINISTRATIVE COSTS

July 22, 1993

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In the wake of an announcement by Douglas County Senior Services that services must be cut, those who use the services have pointed the knife at a bigger slice of the budget pie: administration.

Administrators and members of the board of directors, however, maintain that the senior center's administration has little fat to trim.

A projected deficit of $41,000 has forced the board to recommend cuts in popular programs such as recreation, which recently won a competitive arts grant from the state.

Center statistics show:

-- The executive director's salary rising 27 percent between 1991 and 1993, from $23,408 to $29,705.

Because the present director, Jean Cowles, began in February 1991, a full salary was not listed that year, explained Kathy Bryant, senior services fiscal director.

Cowles received a 7 percent raise between 1992 and 1993.

-- Overall, administration expenses have risen 30.4 percent since 1991. Bryant attributed the increases to salaries and building maintenance, which doubled in two years.

-- In comparison, total recreation department expenses fell 2.7 percent over the same two years.

-- The center's total budget rose 23 percent since 1991. The share that administrative costs have taken has gone up slightly, from 18 percent to 19 percent.

The statistics raised the eyebrow of William Binns, an independent finance expert whose wife, Erika, takes art classes at the center.

Binns, a member of the Kansas Chapter of American Association of Individual Investors, said corporations try to keep the administrative share of the budget around 11 percent. His number conflicted with that offered by agency officials of 20 percent.

He found despicable the notion of cutting a senior citizen's benefits, namely those of recreation director Mary Coral, after Coral has put in 14 years of service. The board has recommended reducing Coral's position to half-time.

"Any corporation would be castigated for doing that. For a senior service agency, it's just unconscionable," he said.

Beverly Smith, who heads the board of directors, said that the board's recommended cuts were not final and that anything could happen when it meets Tuesday to discuss the situation.

"You can't run an agency without administration," she said. "You have to have it for everything else to work. I just don't know if there's an awful lot of fat there."

Cowles, executive director, agreed that cuts in administration would be difficult.

"They could do away with my position, I suppose," she said, adding that it would be unreasonable. "It's always easy to say you can cut in administration."

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