LEWISBURG — East Buffalo Township supervisors pledged to provide financial assistance to the Buffalo Valley Recreation Authority as the organization struggles to generate revenue during the pandemic.
The Authority, known as BVRA, faces an estimated $80,000 shortfall by year’s end as programming and participation are restricted due to government mitigation measures, BVRA Executive Director Shirley Brough said during Monday’s supervisors meeting.
Supervisors Char Gray, Jim Knight and Matt Schumacher all voted to authorize township Manager Stacey Kifolo to cut checks of up to $8,000 between meetings through year’s end. The move allows faster action rather than waiting for a formal board vote. Additional funds could be authorized by the board at its meetings.
“We’re not going to let this thing fold. It’s an asset to the community,” Schumacher said.
“We just have to get the gym back and we should be in good shape,” Brough said, referring to the hugely popular gymnastics program.
The program is a major revenue driver, about $486,000 was budgeted in revenue for 2020, but participation is restricted due to limits on social gatherings.
According to Brough, when gymnastics operations halted in March the program credited $62,000 in dues already paid by participants. Two-thirds of that amount has yet to be used. She said gym operations resumed but at 33 percent capacity.
Because BVRA is a municipal authority, it wasn’t eligible for coronavirus relief funding like the Paycheck Protection Program or Union County’s own grant program, Brough said. Brough said she’s pursuing private grant funding opportunities and expects to hear on at least one application next week.
Kifolo said she questioned Union County Commissioners why that board couldn’t help the authority. The county’s grant program restricts help to specific nonprofit designations and BVRA doesn’t qualify.
“I asked specifically if there was anything that East Buffalo Township could do to help the authority. I have not heard from them,” Kifolo said, referring specifically to funneling federal virus relief funding to the authority through the county and township, which she said is an allowable use of the federal money.
The township and BVRA will stay in communication to fulfill financial needs. Brough estimated BVRA has enough cash currently to make it to mid-October.
Brough said social distancing mandates forced reduced access not only to the gym but also to programs like summer camp. BVRA opted against opening its pool this summer, which operates at a $50,000 loss, though it incurred about $25,000 in maintenance and repairs when a water line feeding the pool broke. The pool remained closed because the gym revenue wasn’t at normal levels to offset the losses.
BVRA continues to pay $10,000 monthly to the operators of the GreenSpace Center in Lewisburg where its offices and gym are located. Brough said she was denied a deferral. Schumacher suggested she again raise the issue with the building owners since BVRA’s barely used the space the past six months.
BVRA operates partially on municipal contributions. East Buffalo Township provided $120,719 in 2020 while Lewisburg provided $67,598.46. The amounts are based on direct terms between the authority and the individual municipalities. Kelly Township is also an authority member but chooses not to contribute financially.
Gray, an East Buffalo Township representative to the BVRA board, said representatives appointed by Lewisburg Borough Council anticipated a similar request for financial assistance.
“In our board meetings, the borough members on the board basically said the same thing. I don’t think there’s going to be any questions about whether the borough will step up. They will,” Gray said. Lewisburg Borough Council meets at 7 p.m. today.