Smart Growth for Vernon, CT
Downtown group told to adapt to falling support

By Max Bakke
Journal Inquirer
Published: Thursday, April 23, 2009 12:39 PM EDT

VERNON — The Rockville Downtown Association, which aims to rejuvenate the economically beleaguered neighborhood through development, will have to restructure its day-to-day operations in the face of sagging public support, the association’s president said Wednesday.

Recently available tax returns for the year ended June 2008 show the total revenue for the organization dropped 18 percent — or $12,240 — from the previous year.

Consequently, association President Gene Skladnowski said, the group may look to sustain itself with volunteers and may hire a part-time executive director instead of installing a full-time replacement for its outgoing chief, Randy Anagnostis.

Anagnostis, who resigned in February, ran the nonprofit since 2005, during which time the group saw its revenues — driven mainly by public donations and town money — plunge from $119,751 in 2005 to $53,964 in 2008, according to the data.

Direct public support, which comes from donations and the town, dropped $13,902 or about 22 percent from 2007 to 2008.

The group ran a deficit for the third year in a row ending in 2008, as the nonprofit’s assets dwindled to $25,332.

“We’ve had some obstacles in those areas, and we are in a sort of reorganization,” Skladnowski said. “We need to revisit the ways we raise funds. … Every charity out there is in a downward trend in their membership and their donor base.”

Frustrated by the lack of communication and information from the nonprofit — namely a refusal by the group’s staff to allow Town Council liaisons to attend board of directors’ meetings — council Republicans withdrew $15,000 from its annual $35,000 contribution to the group for next fiscal year.

Most of the group’s expenses have gone toward staff salaries and benefits and to rent on its Park Place office.

Anagnostis was paid $41,000 in 2008, and the organization also employs a part-time administrative assistant. It pays $7,010 annually in rent.

The association recently installed Thomas Joyce, Vernon’s former town planner, to act as interim director while the nonprofit drafts a job description and searches for a new chief.

Skladnowksi said the association is committed to conducting business differently from Anagnostis and that will be reflected in whom the group hires to lead the organization going forward.

“We have to seek funding from the community and businesses and charitable donations to develop a stronger Rockville Downtown Association,” he said. “We realize there was some communicative shortfalls that have occurred and we are looking for someone who can rectify that.”

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