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Goleta Valley Community Center Shares Financial Plan With City Council

Nonprofit leaders present the Goleta City Council with its audit recommendations and an updated five-year plan to stave off takeover

Representatives of the Goleta Community Center and the city of Goleta met Tuesday to discuss plans to improve the center’s financial situation.
Representatives of the Goleta Community Center and the city of Goleta met Tuesday to discuss plans to improve the center’s financial situation. (Noozhawk file photo)

The Goleta Valley Community Center needs to come up with a plan to remain profitable, and those running the Old Town Goleta gathering place shared some ideas Tuesday about how to do that.

Finding more sponsorships and grants was at the top of the list, along with advertising the center as a meeting place for teleconferencing between north and south Santa Barbara County and developing a comprehensive, proactive maintenance schedule.

In a much more amicable exchange than two months ago, GVCC leaders and the Goleta City Council went over financials of the city-owned property at 5679 Hollister Ave.

In August, years of operating in the red made council members so upset that one of them mentioned taking over the GVCC operations completely.

This week, officials were happy to see results of the GVCC nonprofit’s first-ever audit, and to hear strategies for moving forward in its five-year master plan.

The council unanimously voted to receive the report and directed staff to analyze all the documents and come back with recommendations for how the GVCC should be run.

“You do have healthy reserves — healthy as in you have money in the bank,” Councilman Roger Aceves said of the GVCC’s $352,300 in reserves, which could potentially cover 81 percent of the center’s annual expenses.

Aceves was the chief critic of the GVCC previously, chastising the eight-person nonprofit board that has managed the center since 1977.

The 7-acre community center site, which is valued at $4.5 million, serves as a venue for everything from child care to senior services and rentable event space, with an added commitment to nonprofits.

Goleta took over the GVCC lease from Santa Barbara County when the city incorporated in 2002, subleasing the structure built in 1927 as Goleta Union School to GVCC and subsidizing rent.

GVCC, which currently has a month-to-month lease with the city pending negotiations, had $447,482 in 2013 fiscal year revenues but finished in the hole the past four years.

The city has also been eyeing the site to potentially build a new civic center and city hall, relocating from 130 Cremona Dr.

GVCC general manager Rob Locke said this year was on track to be back in black and that he was looking forward to a fruitful partnership with the city, especially when officials figured out what they want for the property.

He said the center sees as many as 7,000 visitors a month and hopes to delve into that list to find future donors.

Locke hit on all the sticking points from the last discussion — reevaluating rate structures since most revenue comes from four tenants and user fees, tackling unmaintained playing fields and parking lots and finally completing an audit.

Representatives from Santa Barbara’s MacFarlane & Faletti Co. LLP presented the GVCC 2014-15 financial audit, showing the nonprofit has done a financially sound job of running the facility.

The firm suggested eliminating one of several people who can sign GVCC checks, ensuring tenants pay rent in full, and improving documentation of meeting minutes.

“We have started implementing audit recommendations,” Locke assured council members.

Aceves asked if GVCC could possibly use reserves to pay down expenses before relying on grant funds, learning the nonprofit doesn’t yet have a reserve policy.

Councilman Tony Vallejo, a CPA himself, asked GVCC to consider an investment strategy for some of the money already in the bank, and said the center might have to eventually look at staffing.

Council members seemed pleased with the progress and interested in what staff would report back later this year or early next.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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