First came the financial troubles. Next came the flood that devastated the nearby town of Lyons and resulted in 217 animals being taken to the Longmont Humane Society shelter.
But executive direcor Liz Smokowski sounded a positive note today when asked if she thought Longmont Humane would survive its trials.
"Absolutely," Smokowski said. "I'm sure there are people to believe in what we do and see us as a good investment."
She has more than 400,000 reasons to be optimistic. The shelter must come up with $$772,227 for an annual loan payment by Nov. 30 or face foreclosure. It has raised more than half that already.
In fact, Smokowski said the ultimate goal is to raise $3.1 million to pay off the full remaining amount of the loan so the shelter doesn't have to face the same crisis for the next three years.
Construction cost overruns from the shelter's expansion that began in 2006 and six years of financial deficits drained the organization's reserves, leaving the society unable to make its 2013 and subsequent annual loan payments.
The Longmont Times-Call reported that the organization's financial problems are due to construction costs for the 43,000-square-foot expansion and annual deficits from 2006 to 2011 exceeding $1.6 million. The cost of the expansion was forecast to be about $8.2 million but came in at $9 million by the time it opened in January 2009.
Donations decreased starting in 2007 following the economic downturn, and operating costs increased once the expansion was completed due to higher utility costs and expenses associated with the care of more animals, according to the newspaper.
Smokowski inherited the red ink when was hired as executive director at the end of 2011. Last year, she reduced staff by 30 percent, closed three of the organization's four thrift stores and moved the clinic ,which was located offsite, into the expanded facility to cut costs.
The nonprofit has launched a fundraising campaign, "The Longmont Humane Society: Serving the Community Now and Forever," seeking gifts to achieve the organization's immediate and long-term goals.
Adding to the shelter's woes, the historic flooding that inundated much of the state in September added another $83,000 in expenses. "We wern't expecting that," Smokowski said.
Fortunately Longmont Humane was able to find other sources of funds to handle that, she said.
Smokowski said Longmont Humane still needs flood donations. About 70 of the original 217 animals remain in the shelter and some have developed health issues from giardia, E coli and stress.
The shelter itself escaped flood damage.
The humane society has contracts to serve part of Boulder County and communities including Lyons, Mead, Dacono and Firestone, she said. Longmont serves areas not covered by the Humane Society of Boulder Valley, which is based in Boulder.
To donate to Longmont Humane go to www.longmonthumane.org or mail donations to the shelter at 9595 Nelson Road, Longmont 80501.
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