Doko Manor’s financial woes continue

BLYTHEWOOD – After the first six months of operation, (March – October, 2013) the Manor was operating at a deficit of $106,000, according to the Town’s then CPA Kem Smith.  During an intense five-hour February, 2014 workshop, Blythewood’s then town council discussed ways to stop the bleeding which, they worried aloud, could possibly cause the Manor to become too expensive to operate in the not-too-distant future.

A question that popped up again and again in that meeting was, “How long can the Town continue to subsidize the Manor?”

Eleven years, so far.

“Our revenue is projected [in the FY 2024-25 budget] to be $200,000, and our expenses are projected to be $360,000… a deficit of $160,000,” Councilman Donald Brock noted at town council’s April, 22 budget workshop.

The Town’s recently resigned Town Administrator Carroll Williamson noted at the meeting that the Manor’s director, Kristi Coggins, was unable to attend, but read an upbeat account she submitted of the Manor’s current financial condition.

“I am proud to share with you my reflections of our current year 2024 and future vision for our Beautiful Doko Manor,” Coggins wrote. “[The] 2024 rentals have been truly right on track for the $190k goal. Currently revenue shows to be $157,578 with $16,250 remaining to be collected for a total of $173,828.”

But revenues for the Manor have gone from $346,430 in FY 2022 to $237,461 in FY 2023 to a projected $148,333 in FY 2024. The projected revenue for FY 2025 is $200.

Williamson offered that, “There’s really no change in the expenses; the increases are due to salary increases.”

The combined salaries for the two full-time Manor employees is projected to increase from $112,268 in FY 2024 to $126,289 in FY 2025 – an increase of $14,021. That increase includes a 3.2 percent cost of living increase. The Town will also pay out an increase of $53.778 for health insurance, retirement benefits, a three percent merit increase, and a proposed $1,000 for gym memberships for a total of $181,067 for salary and benefits for the two employees, not including vacation, holidays and sick days.

The Manor’s expenses increased from $335,000 in FY 2022 to $360,000 in FY 2025.

“We’ve got to figure out a way to cut expenses and up the revenue,” Brock said.

McKenrick agreed.

A few years ago, instead of continuing to supplement the Manor, council moved the Manor’s budget into the general fund.

McKenrick said that only hid what was going on with the Manor. He said he would like to see it pulled back out of the general fund.

‘Even if it’s supplemented by the general fund, at least we could see a very cut and dried picture of what’s going on with the Manor,” McKenrick said.

“It is what it is,” Brock said, “but we need to attempt to make the Manor self-sufficient.”

McKenrick asked the 11-year-old question: “What is it costing the Town of Blythewood to operate the Manor?”

“At our May 9 budget workshop, I want a presentation from Ms. Coggins on the Manor, explaining A – Z, so we can really look at the expenditures,” he said.

That meeting was set for 9 a.m. Thursday, May 9 and will be reported in the May 16 edition of  The Voice of Blythewood.

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