By Betsy Klein
Director of Marketing & Development
As most of you know the Humane Society of Sedona is an icon of the city and has been since the 1950s. There are many who are familiar with what we do and know why we are here but are not aware of the many programs and services we offer. Recent events have indicated it may be time for an update to all of our supporters and residents of the City of Sedona on what the shelter is all about.
A question we have gotten recently from a few (yes, just a few) people is why didn’t the shelter just say yes to the city contract? After all it is supposed to be about the animals not about money. Guess what? We couldn’t agree more! Which is why we asked for more money so we can do more for the animals.
The city contract offer was firm at $47,500 (same amount as last year) with a 1.7% cost of living adjustment in year 2 and 3. Facebook postings and emails indicating the shelter turned down a contract that allowed for increases in years 2 and 3 neglected to define the “increase” which was incredibly misleading to the public. A cost of living adjustment is not an increase. In fact, when adjusted for the cost of living in years 2 and 3, the contract amount will actually be less than $47,500.
For some perspective, let’s put this into a real world business scenario. Assume you are a contractor and build homes. One day a long-term client says to you “For the next three years I am going to contract only with you to build all our tract homes. However regardless of what it costs you over the next three years to make those homes, you cannot increase your price to me”. You are so excited! A committed client for the next three years is wonderful. So in year one it works out pretty good and it is nice to know the commitment to buy your services will be there for another two years. Then you notice in year two your expenses are up 17% and one supplier increased his cost to you by 30%. Then year three comes along and expenses have increased yet again so much so that the offer from the client is no longer profitable or in your best interest. So to prevent finding your business in this situation it seems fiscally reasonable to add a provision to protect yourself from financial stress…at least to us.
In the city council meeting one member spoke of a time when non profits “pulled themselves up by their boot straps” and took care of their own financial needs vs. this sense of entitlement that the city owes them funding…so let’s address this…
First of all, we are not sure of the exact time he was referencing but we can assume it was quite a while ago. We are also going to assume during that time period there were not nearly as many non-profits within Sedona as there are today. What was not noted is how the population of Sedona has actually decreased (population change 2000 to 2014: -1.5%, source city-data.com), meaning more nonprofits are approaching a smaller number of people for their fundraising efforts.
Furthermore, he failed to differentiate between nonprofits that provide a city service and those that don’t. We wholeheartedly agree the contracts approved that night should have funding from the city as they serve the city of Sedona residents. Additionally the nonprofits funded are Sedona icons and embody the spirit of this city, the same spirit the city uses to entice visitors and increase tourism. Which is why we all deserve city funding, because we have earned it and give it back tenfold.
Additionally another council member pointed out the $47,500 is really a drop in the bucket compared to the shelter’s overall budget. Yes it is. So that we means we absolutely do “pull ourselves up by the boot straps” to raise the remaining $1,096,500 it takes to run the shelter (based on 2014 projected budget).
In the meeting the shelter was compared to the library a very noble and iconic institution of this great town. However that is where the comparison ends. Books don’t require vaccinations, surgeries, food, water, to be walked, dental care, etc. We know a great amount of care goes into books it is just a different type of care. Comparing the care and cost of books to those of pets is like comparing apples to RVs.
Many of the council members mentioned the numerous emails they received in support of the shelter. Unfortunately the responses to the concerned citizens indicated there was an increase built into the contract but really didn’t get into the details of what that increase actually is. We received three emails, one phone call and a few Facebook comments, which told us the overwhelming majority was in our favor and we would like to thank all of you for your support.
Did the issue get emotional? Absolutely. Did people get angry? Absolutely. Is it all about the animals? 100%! Which is why we didn’t sign the city contract at first pass and attempted to get more money for the animals.
Hopefully this clarifies any remaining questions. We will be continuing this campaign to provide information on shelter activities to debunk the myths and dispel misinformation. Stay tuned for in two weeks the column will be all about “financial transparency”, or, as we like to call it, our 990 and audited financial statements.
Ms. Klein, it is hard to believe that the Humane Society is continuing with self-serving propaganda. You say that the HSS are in financial stress but the HSS has $1 million in reserve and choose to utilize 40% of its income to salaries. (How can a non-profit animal rescue organization be able to have the monies to expend over $430,000 on salaries per annum and then state they are in financial stress? One is not in animal rescue to get rich, so if anyone at the HSS is only at the HSS to earn up to $85K a year, than they are not at the HSS for the right reasons).
You are still complaining that the City only gave the HSS $47,500 and your explanation really does not cut it. This is not a grant, this is not for the HSS to use toward its running costs, this is a service contract for the HSS to take in the 40 dogs that the City bring to you and the costs the HSS expend on that (which at the moment is double than any other humane society), plus additional monies. You decided to say yes to do this service for the City, the Community and to the dogs, so if you are going to continue to harp on the fact that you only got $150,000 over 3 years and criticize the City then you should have not accepted it and let another shelter in the area do this service that would be thrilled with $47,500 for the first year with increases in year 2 and year 3. You should be happy to do this service and the fact that you are still complaining implies that you only are interested in the amount of the money of the contract and not about the 40 dogs that need to receive shelter and help. This certainly is not putting the animals first especially since, I reiterate, you have enough money to meet $430,000 in payroll so the HSS in fact does have the money (in addition to the $47,500 p.a.) to help these dogs but just chooses to put the money in their pockets instead.
As the City Council stated at the Council Meeting, the HSS cannot expect the City Council to give you more money simply because you cannot manage your own finances with regard to your income and expenditure. The Humane Society lost its credibility when a statement was released that was filled with blatant lies and inaccuracies so there is no reason I can think of why I should believe anything the HSS says. It is astounding that the person who did this – whether it was you Ms. Klein or another Director – had no compunction in doing so – with the aim of manipulating the community by pulling on their heartstrings and urging them to tell the City Council to give you $95,000 – is still working at the HSS. (The City was bombarded with emails as a consequence of your erroneous facts in your statement and many people were irate when they discovered the truth. Also many people on Facebook were aware that you removed comments that stated the truth). This indicates that the HSS approve of this behavior and the decision to do so shows a lack of respect to the dogs, community – who they rely on for donations – and the City! The City Council rightly stated that this was a very bad decision made by the HSS, as do lots of other people, and they “threw the City under the bus”. The Council were wondering if the HSS were “man enough” to apologize to the City and the community and the fact the HSS has not issued an apology speaks volumes!
A lot of things about the HSS have been exposed Ms. Klein and these certainly are not myths but facts. The HSS can only blame themselves for their own mismanagement and for the reason why people have misgivings on the HSS due to these facts, and who do not want to support a non-profit that feels it is justifiable to use 40% of income for salaries and who charge $125 for fund raising tickets when only $60 goes to the animals! I am an animal lover and, I along with many other people, are giving the animals a voice by saying that in their best interests, in-house changes need to be made and due to the above decision by the HSS to issue that statement (and for other things that they HSS does (or does not do) that have come to light), many of us feel strongly that the current Executive Director, yourself and the other Directors and the Board need to resign. To improve things for the animals, procedures, policies, reputation and credibility, the HSS needs to have people run it who care about the animals and make them their number 1 priority as it is apparent that the existing group make it more about the money, their egos, and less about the animals. People are even suggesting that the current management are running the HSS into the ground, along with its credibility and reputation, and are losing support left, right and center whether it be from people or local businesses, as they would rather support non-profit organizations who work hard for no salary to do the utmost to save animals lives and find them homes.