A Message from WITF to our Community
From Kathleen Pavelko, President and CEO
I want to tell you about some important and painful steps WITF has taken to respond to the financial and economic crisis that has now spread world-wide. We’ve responded in our programming, through Smart Talk on TV and the new Radio Smart Talk.
But WITF must also respond as a prudently operated non-profit business.
Although WITF’s revenues were “at budget” through the end of September, the situation has changed with startling rapidity. We reviewed our FY09 budget and concluded that we would face a $526,000 deficit by June 30th if we did not take action to protect the programs and services which are our mission and reason for being. Prudent management and meeting our financial obligations requires us to take action, especially when the economic picture is so uncertain.
Therefore, we developed a new FY09 budget with the goals to:
• Keep our programs and services to you foremost in our minds
• Implement the consequences as humanely as possible.
The plan was reviewed and approved by the Executive Committee of the board. That plan includes $526,000 in cuts in operations and personnel expenditures between January 1 and June 30th. The operations cuts were made in training, travel, dues, subscriptions, maintenance, consultants and hospitality. The difficult decisions involved personnel, which could not be avoided with a deficit of this size.
Virtually all overtime has been eliminated and part time positions will be unfilled or eliminated. One full-time position will go to part time, at the employee’s request. Five full-time positions that are currently empty will not be filled.
There will be 5 full-time layoffs, which was the most difficult decision of all because it affects people who are our friends as well as our colleagues. But every person affected will receive a generous severance package and continued health benefits through COBRA. The layoffs will be effective January 1st.
In addition, all WITF staff members will share in the effort to continue our programs and services by the following:
Health care premiums will increase for all staff members by 50%. The impact on staff will vary according to the health plan they select. All non-union staff, including senior staff and the CEO, will take 56 hours of unpaid leave between December 1 and June 30th. By design, the impact of unpaid time will be largest for those at the higher end of the salary scale and smallest for those at the lower end of the salary scale. We are hoping that members of the union will be willing to join their colleagues in making this a shared sacrifice to protect our mission and service to the community.
In addition to this unpaid time off, the senior VPs will accept a 5% reduction in their salaries from January through June. In addition to the unpaid time off, as the CEO, I will take a 10% reduction in my salary in the same period.
WITF has made these decisions with regret but with the certainty that these steps are necessary and in the best interests of our public service. The recession we are experiencing may not end with this fiscal year and further difficulties lie ahead. Therefore, delay or denial of the financial situation is out of the question.
I am deeply grateful to our staff for facing this challenge squarely, and for the personal sacrifice they will be making to protect our programs and services. We are all in this together, which is what will get us through these difficult times and the times to come.
WITF is your public media organization and your place for trusted information and thoughtful discussion. I welcome your comments on this or any other matter related to our service.
I realize there is more the story, but I won't get into all of that here. Suffiece it to say that my thoughts and prayers are with you, my friends.