Committee asks club for transparency

Special to the NEWS

Boys & Girls ClubThe City of San Benito Boys and Girls Club committee is asking for transparency from the club regarding its financial affairs and operational information.

Committee members have recently been reviewing methods to assist the San Benito club, which, according to Boys and Girls Club of San Benito Board of Directors President Tommy Ramirez Jr., is in danger of closing due to lack of funding. Ramirez has said recently that $75,000 is needed to continue the club’s operations, lest it close after three months of exhausting emergency funds.

The committee met Monday evening to discuss matters concerning the club, consisting of City Manager Manuel Lara and City Commissioners Joe D. Gonzalez and Rene Villafranco. The representatives for the club were not present at the time.

One of the matters that the committee is stymied over is that there is no actual information regarding the 2013 budget, officials said.

“We have a lot of blanks in it,” Lara said.

According to committee members, the proposed 2013 budget is projecting no revenue or expenses with most of their assorted programs, notably the football and cheer programs. Also lacking are the expenses for their personnel, members said. Right now, committee members said only the club’s executive director is given a proposed amount of $23,600 for the year.

“We do not know if they are actually cutting it to the bone, or if they are planning to fill in the spaces as the year goes by,” Lara said during the meeting.

Committee members also took issue with the club, a nonprofit organization, seeking financial assistance from the city.

“There is no reason why the Boys and Girls Club should close,” Lara said. “If they promote and if they deliver, they can stay afloat.”

Furthermore, Lara said that during city officials’ research of various clubs on the verge of closing, there have been none in which the city had to step in. Instead, he said, some had to cut down their programs or reduced their operating times.

“Everybody in the Boys and Girls Club knows that it’s a fundraising organization,” Villafranco said. “It takes fundraising to stay afloat.”

Committee members agreed to seek from club representatives, in writing, whatever measures have been taken to acquire the $75,000 needed before the next regular City Commission meeting, scheduled for Tuesday, March 5.

“In order to make a sound decision,” Lara said, “we have to answer to the public. It should to be transparent. Tell us what you need, show us your records of how you’re managing the budget, how it’s supposed to be managed. That is all we ask.”

Since word of the club’s financial woes made headlines, residents, businesses and organizations have responded with events held to raise money for the club. Such efforts included a garage sale held at The Warehouse in San Benito, a Zumbathon event held inside the club’s gym, a baseball and softball tournament held at Stookey Park and a benefit dance featuring Grupo Retoño at the Knights of Columbus Hall.

Upcoming events organized to raise money for the club include a dog pageant at the Heavin Resaca Trail on March 9 and a roller derby exhibition match featuring the South Texas Rolleristas at the club pavilion on March 23.

Read this story in the Feb. 27 edition of the San Benito News, or subscribe to our E-Edition by clicking here.

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