CANNON BEACH - The Cannon Beach Children's Center is, as its accountant, Buzz Johnson says, "a victim of our own success" and needs $13,000 more from the city to balance its budget.

Johnson presented the request at a recent City Council work session. He offered a budget that shows, as of March 31, the center had an income of -$404.56 when it had budgeted $14,799 for the same time this year.

The City Council tentatively agreed to grant the center's request, but official approval won't be given until the council's next regular meeting May 4.

The only state certified child care facility between Tillamook and Warrenton, the center receives funding annually through the city's community services grants, which are given to local and regional nonprofit organizations. This year, the city gave the center $49,786.

Because enrollment in the learning center remains at capacity with 41 students, its staffing level must be maintained according to state standards. As a result, he said, most of the employees have been at the center long enough to qualify for the health insurance benefit.

"For the very reason we have been able to build a stable, quality staff, we also find ourselves with a budget shortfall," Johnson added in a letter he sent to the Council before the meeting.

According to the center's budget as of March 31, wages, payroll taxes, medical insurance and other payroll expenses total $153,520, which is $10,308 more than the $143,212 budgeted.

In addition, income from fees paid for the care of the infants and preschoolers at the center is nearly $2,000 shy of the forecast. Contributions also are down by $6,905.

Most of the fundraisers throughout the year brought in more income than expected, including a mailing campaign that collected nearly $3,900 over projections and a wine walk that generated nearly $1,500 more than predicted. But food sales at the Sandcastle event lost $150 this year and a planned OctoberFest, which had been projected to raise $7,000, wasn't held because there weren't enough board members or volunteers to plan it, Johnson said.

However, he added, with the Children's Center's participation in a citywide "Savor Oregon" event last month, Director Carol Lynch has developed new sources for the board, he added.

"I honestly think we're in better shape (financially) than we've been since I've been here," Johnson said. "Thirteen thousand dollars is a chip shot compared to draining our assets $25,000 to $30,000 in prior years.

"If I didn't think we could make it, I'd say bag it," Johnson added. "But we're only $13,000 from a balanced budget."

In addition to the city grant, the center has received other grants for building repairs and remodeling. Nearly four years ago, the center was forced to make major repairs to the building that drained the center's reserve funds. More repairs were made this year with a $12,510 grant from the Meyer Memorial Trust. It is much easier to obtain grants for construction than grants for operating budgets, Johnson said.

Daily fees for the center range from $57 for half days for preshoolers to $124 for full days for toddlers. Higher fees aren't charged to residents outside Cannon Beach.

However, City Council Nancy Giasson said it didn't seem fair for children in Seaside to pay the same as those in Cannon Beach. Johnson replied that the fees may increase for non-Cannon Beach residents.

More than half of the children enrolled have parents living in Cannon Beach, Lynch said. Most of the rest come from Seaside. The only other closest state certified child care center is in Warrenton, she said.

Parents pay an average of $3.40 per hour for care at the center, "but for parents, it's a big chunk of change," Lynch said. Most of those using the center are teachers, clerks at Safeway or workers at Providence Seaside Hospital, she said.

Several openings may be available this summer after 13 preschoolers graduate from the center, Lynch said.


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