Hunt’s pay not likely to be reduced despite cuts to Sunnyside Up’s funding

Sunnyside Up may not have much money to work with during the next fiscal year.

The Dominion Post published an article in Sunday’s edition about the Sunnyside Up funding cuts, and spoke to Councilwoman Jenny Selin, who is also a member of the Sunnyside Up board of directors. Selin said that it is not likely that Executive Director Jim Hunt’s salary will be cut.

Hunt receives a salary of approximately $86,000.

Selin told the DP:

“Once you hire someone, you usually do not go back and ask them to take less.”

As previously reported, Morgantown City Council voted to cut Sunnyside Up’s funding first by 25 percent in early March, then again another 25 percent a couple weeks later. West Virginia University matches whatever the city pays, so that means the university will also be cutting 50 percent of funding.

Last year, Sunnyside Up received $100,000 from Morgantown and $100,000 from WVU, totaling the group’s funding to $200,000. After the cuts, the group will receive a total of $100,000 in funding for the next fiscal year.

After Hunt’s salary of about $86,000, that would leave the organization with approximately $14,000 to use for operation.

Hunt is also a member of Clarksburg City Council.

(Photo credit: www.cityofclarksburgwv.com)

According to the Clarksburg Exponent-Telegram, council members earn $2,500 per year. The article also states that “Clarksburg council members may also opt to receive health benefits through the city of Clarksburg.” At the time of the article, October 2010, Hunt was one of the five council members who claimed full benefits.

According to the Dominion Post, Hunt said that he “doesn’t receive any health insurance or retirement through Sunnyside Up,” and that about $10,000 of his salary is in lieu of those benefits.

The most recent tax forms for Sunnyside Up available on GuideStar are from 2010 (PDF available here). Here’s a quick breakdown:

  • Total revenue: $204,842
  • Total expenses: $173,865
    • Salaries, compensation, employee benefits: $90,176
      • Hunt’s salary: $83,200
    • Professional fees and other payments to independent contractors: $25,309
    • Occupancy, rent, utilities and maintenance: $8,010
    • Printing, publications, postage and shipping: $4,008
    • Other expenses: $28,862

The organization is said to have savings in the bank, but will it be able to continue operating if it only receives approximately 14 percent of its usual funding?

– Leann

Sunnyside Up to form advisory committee to teach students to ‘learn not to burn’

Sunnyside Up lost 50 percent of its funding during March. To make matters worse, thousands of dollars worth of damage to the Sunnyside neighborhood took place over St. Patrick’s Day weekend.

Sunnyside Up Executive Director Jim Hunt said of the 140 Dumpsters that are in Sunnyside, 40 of them have been burnt and need to be repainted. It costs between $150-200 to paint one Dumpster.

Some of the new sidewalks were also damaged. In summer 2011, sidewalks were replaced throughout Sunnyside. Hunt said that replacing one piece that was burnt is estimated to cost $5,000.

“It’s an expensive thing,” Hunt said. “The idea of it is – are you going to go and replace this brand new sidewalk that had a burnt place that will cause a weak spot? If we don’t replace it – which we probably won’t because of budget issues – you have a brand new sidewalk just put in and it’s already damaged.”

When asked about how the recent cuts will affect Sunnyside Up, Hunt said that it will continue to operate based on the funds that it’s provided.

“In some ways we don’t have much choice,” Hunt said. “We do the things we need to do in our mission based upon what money is provided. Obviously, some of the things we currently do will have priority. The board will have to determine which ones they want to do and which they won’t be able to do.”

One of the fairly costly services the group provides is employing Manpower and contract workers to remove debris from sidewalks and graffiti from buildings.

“Those items are fairly costly and we’ll have to determine how much of that we’ll have to do going forward,” Hunt said.

Sunnyside Up’s mission isn’t to eliminate fires and graffiti, but to reduce and control them, Hunt said.

With graffiti, the goal is to have it painted over within two days of spotting it. Hunt said that it’s impossible to completely eliminate it, but if they keep up on repainting, it will reduce the problem.

In order to try to eliminate street and furniture fires, Sunnyside Up is creating an advisory committee for Learn Not to Burn. (press release available here)

Hunt said that at 61-years-old, he is a not a peer to West Virginia University students. The advisory committee will be made up of current and former students who understand the mindset of their peers.

The idea came about right after St. Patrick’s Day weekend – Hunt said he had e-mails and phone calls from a couple dozen people asking what they could do to help.

“They love the community, the university, and they feel like they have something to give back,” Hunt said.

Pure enforcement alone won’t stop the burning, he said. There are approximately 4,000 students living in Sunnyside and between 10-12 police officers on duty for the whole city.

“What we need is people who care about the community and will discourage burning – you can drink, you can party, you can scream, but you cannot burn,” Hunt said.

In just a few minutes, things can get out of a control. This past weekend, nine people died from a house fire in Charleston. There were no working smoke detectors in the home.

Hunt said he doesn’t want an incident like this to have to happen in order for people to learn it’s not okay to set fires.

“Burning is just not a acceptable way of celebrating or partying,” Hunt said.

City officials were upset over the “I’m Shmacked” video that was filmed in Morgantown on St. Patrick’s Day weekend. The video mostly showed students drinking, but there were also some brief scenes of fires. Hunt said he thinks there’s been a bit of overreaction to the video.

“For the first three months of the school year, Sunnyside had been surprisingly without incident,” Hunt said. “During the first three months of 2012, we’ve had students who volunteered – 300 who volunteered [to clean up]. A lot of good stuff happening.”

But then 35 fires were set St. Patrick’s Day weekend.

“We had two days with [fires] that could have been much worse,” Hunt said. “It’s not to say it wasn’t serious. … For 88 of the 90 days, they were as good as students as you could find.”

Hunt said there would have been fires on the weekend anyway, but he heard reports of people driving around ahead of the I’m Shmacked film crew, and that maybe only a handful of people were actually starting the fires.

“If you’re going to bash the students for those two days, you have to give them credit for the 88 days they weren’t burning,” Hunt said.

Below is Sunnyside Up’s Facebook status, which was posted Monday afternoon.

– Leann

Morgantown City Council cuts an additional $25,000 from Sunnyside Up’s funding

Morgantown City Council members were very upset over the events that took place this weekend – 35 fires were set around town as part of St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.

Around 10 p.m. Tuesday night, a video was released by a group called I’m Shmacked, which has been traveling to 20 different college campuses making films of students partying.

Twitter exploded as students waited for the video to be posted on YouTube. Within 13 minutes, #imshmackedwvu was trending worldwide.

Meanwhile in council chambers, members expressed frustration and tried to think of ways to solve the problem. According to MetroNews, Deputy Mayor Ron Bane thinks West Virginia University isn’t harsh enough on students, and more serious penalties need to be put in place to send a message.

“I’m so angry right now, it’s ridiculous. I don’t think any of us should sit by in this room and wait for (WVU) to say, ‘oh, Johnny got a slap on the wrist,'” Bane said. “It’s enough. I want to put jail time back in. I’m all for that. Send them down to Harrison County and let them sit there for a month, and they will miss a month of classes. Well, tough.  You made the decision of being stupid.”

However, it seems that this may not be a WVU-specific problem. According to an article in the Charleston Gazette, Morgantown Police Chief Ed Preston said several thousand students from other schools flocked to Morgantown for spring break. One street fire was surrounded by Penn State students and the crowd at one rowdy house party was mainly University of Maryland students.

I’m not exactly sure how he’s gotten those numbers or can even say where people were from. I don’t think people normally volunteer what college they attend when cops are breaking up parties.

Besides discussing ways to punish students, council also discussed budget cuts again.

Earlier this month, council voted to cut Sunnyside Up’s budget from $100,000 per year to $75,000. During Tuesday’s meeting, council voted to cut an additional $25,000, according to MetroNews.

This will cut Sunnyside Up’s total budget from $200,000 to $100,000. West Virginia University matches the funds the city gives, meaning it will cut funding from $100,000 to $50,000, as well.

A Morgantown firefighter puts out a Dumpter fire in Sunnyside, near McLane Manor early Sunday morning. You see see the Sunnyside Up logo painted on the Dumpster. Sunnyside Up uses some of its funding to paint the Dumpsters.

(Photo credit: The Dominion Post – Jason DeProspero)

Since many of the fires took place in Sunnyside, I contacted Sunnyside Up’s Executive Director Jim Hunt to see what he thought about this past weekend’s events, which he described as “disappointing.”

“We realize that this is an ongoing effort and something that needs reinforced on a regular basis,” he said. “The dumpster fires were significant and caused several thousands of dollars damage.

“As with most issues of student behavior, a small minority damages the reputation of the whole. Students at WVU are on par with most schools, but a small core creates the poor image that we have to live with. New students see the ‘image’ and are inclined to follow some of these bad examples.”

I called Hunt earlier to ask about the new funding cuts that took place last night, but as of 3:35 p.m., I haven’t heard back from him yet. I will update again once I speak with him.

– Leann

News Round-Up March 16, 2012

I apologize for the lack of posts this week. I’ve been sick, and decided to try to take it easy instead of stressing myself out over updating.

Unfortunately, that means I missed this week’s Sunnyside Up board of directors meeting. According to the Dominion Post, the board discussed a plan to improve sidewalks and lighting on McLane Ave. The full article is available here – “Group looks to upgrade McLane Ave.

Also in the news this week:

  • New Jersey resident charged with malicious burning in Morgantown – WBOY –  David F. Hotaling, of West Caldwell, N.J., was charged with malicious burning for a fire that damaged a sidewalk on Grant Avenue. Hotaling was cited at approximately 3:03 a.m. on March 12 by Lt. Jason Quinn.
  • Officials can’t tell what caused Mason St. blazeThe Dominion Post – The vacant apartment that caught fire is owned by Tina Walden, Gary Walden‘s wife. Here’s a screen shot of the brief:
  • Bedbug cost? $65 per UNL residentKearneyHub.com –  The University of Nebraska-Lincoln spent nearly $400,000 — roughly $65 per resident — to track down and eradicate bedbugs in its student housing.

– Leann

More information on Sunnyside Up funding cuts

Today, I found a more detailed article about the Morgantown City Council meeting where the city’s new budget would cut 25 percent of Sunnyside Up’s funding.

According to WAJR.com, that 25 percent cut would reduce the city’s funding for Sunnyside Up from $100,000 per year to $75,000 (Council Narrowly Approves Cuts to Sunnyside Up).

This would not only reduce Sunnyside Up’s total budget by $25,000, but by $50,000 because West Virginia University matches every dollar the city provides, according to WAJR.

This article also mentions reasons why some members of council felt cuts were necessary.

Mayor Jim Manilla said the organization already has about $600,000 in the bank and can begin to draw money from those accounts.

Sunnyside also pays its interns $7,000 per year and its director about $93,000 for “a job that can be done on a part-time basis,” Manilla said.

Byrne questioned why the money from the proposed cuts wasn’t being reinvested anywhere:

“We should save money, but I don’t think it’s smart to take money where you’re getting a 100 percent investment return and just putting it under a mattress,” Byrne said.

The proposed cuts passed with a vote of 4-3, with councilors Manilla, Wes Nugent, Ron Bane, and Linda Herbst in favor of the cuts. Councilors Byrne (who is listed as an ex officio member of Sunnyside Up’s board of directors on SU’s website), Jenny Selin (member of Sunnyside Up’s board of directors) and Marti Shamberger voted against the cuts.

All seven councilors then approved to pass the budget on first reading, according to WAJR. A workshop will be held next Wednesday, March 14 at 6 p.m. to further discuss the budget.

I wanted to try something new with this post. I found that John Kerkhoff, reporter/anchor for MetroNews Radio, tweeted during the Morgantown City Council meeting, and I created a story on Storify with his tweets and some responses. You can check it out here. I hope it’s not too confusing – it’s my first time using Storify.

(here’s a little preview – click for the whole story)

– Leann

Sunnyside Up could lose 25 percent of funding from city

Morgantown City Council is working on its upcoming fiscal year budget, and Sunnyside Up could lose 25 percent of its funding, according to to WDTV (Some Sunnyside Up Funding on Chopping Block in Upcoming Morgantown Budget).

On Tuesday night, city council approved the first reading of the new fiscal year budget.

According to WDTV, Sunnyside Up would receive the biggest cut in funding. Council voted 4-3 to reallocate that money into savings.

Morgantown City Councilman Bill Byrne does not agree with the decision:

“It’s a great partnership between the university and the city, and every dollar that we put in, the university matches a dollar. So, we take $25,000 out, we basically are cutting not just $25,000 from the program, from the investment in Sunnyside, but $50,000, because the university is likely to match only what we put in, so it’s not a wise financial move,” said Morgantown City Councilman Bill Byrne.

 

Sunnyside Up Executive Director Jim Hunt told WDTV that he’s confident the organization can work through it, and that he hopes council will reconsider the funding.

Morgantown City Council will meet again March 20.

(source: http://www.facebook.com/SunnysideUpWV)

This past weekend, West Virginia University’s Student Government Association and members of the Greek community teamed up with Sunnyside Up to clean up the neighborhood. Approximately 300 students showed up and collected over 150 bags of trash. Read more about the cleanup from the Daily Athenaeum – “Campus organizations take part in community cleanup.”

Sunnyside Up’s board of directors will meet 7:30 a.m. next Wednesday, March 14 at its offices in the Seneca Center.

– Leann

Sunnyside Up’s accomplishments and goals

When Sunnyside Up was formed in 2002, the board created a comprehensive plan that listed goals and objectives. For the first few years, the group didn’t follow close to that plan, said Executive Director Jim Hunt.

One of the items that was on the plan for years was adding a PRT stop in Sunnyside, where Beech View Park is currently being constructed on Beechurst Avenue.

(For those who don’t know what the PRT is, it stands for Personal Rapid Transit. Electric passenger cars run on the track, which has five stops between the Evansdale and Downtown campuses. I like to call it “The Subway of the Heavens,” because  it soars through the sky and the “PRT Gods” always yell at students over the loudspeaker when they don’t scan their cards or stand too close to the yellow line. Actually, I think Pete the PRT can explain it better than I can.)

Sunnyside Up did look into getting a PRT stop, but discovered it would cost $13 million, which wasn’t within the budget. While it wasn’t a feasible project, it stayed on the list year after year. Hunt decided the work plan needed to be updated, and to bring back the company who helped write the original plan in 2002 to assist.

Each summer the board of directors holds a retreat where members update the work plan, whether that means adding new items or removing projects that aren’t feasible.

When asked what Sunnyside Up’s biggest accomplishments are, Hunt said the creation of a Tax Increment Financing district and the sidewalk/lighting project that occurred last summer, which cost approximately $1.5 million.

The demolition of 70 dilapidated houses was another big accomplishment. The houses were scattered across the neighborhood, and almost every one of the demolitions has resulted in a new project, Hunt said.

As for goals, Hunt shared with me the 2012 Work Plan:

The plan includes the following projects:

  • Seneca Park Project – “Seneca Park is proposed to be a recreational facility within the Sunnyside neighborhood. It will provide a walking area, benches, green space and possible other amenities.”
  • Seneca Connector Project – “The Seneca Connector is proposed to be a pedestrian and bicycle focused pathway through the Sunnyside neighborhood utilizing existing streets, alleyways and right-a-ways from the Evansdale Campus to the Downtown Campus of West Virginia University.”
  • Second phase of Sunnyside Tax Increment Financing Project – “The size and scope of the 2nd phase of the TIF Project will need to be determined and design and engineering will need to be completed prior to construction in 2013.”
  • Alleyway Improvement Project – “Sunnyside Up has identified alleyways in the Sunnyside neighborhood to be an area of potential improvement in parking, solid waste removal and overall appearance of the neighborhood. Sunnyside Up will be analyzing the alleyways to determine the amount of potential development that can take place to improve parking and solid waste removal.”
  • McLane Avenue Improvement Project – “Sunnyside Up has identified McLane Avenue as an area that can be improved at moderate expense. The project will involve working with property owners and the City of Morgantown to repair sidewalks and other infrastructure to develop a more walkable street.”

Other tasks in 2012 include:

  • Manage Sunnyside Up grant programs
  • Clean sidewalks, Caperton Rail Trail and other areas by Manpower Temporary Services workers
  • Supervise brush and tree removal on unopened right-a-ways and Caperton Trail by contracted tree service
  • Organize volunteer cleanup and community service events
  • Meet with prospective developers in conjunction with Morgantown City Planning Department
  • Brownfield Redevelopment of Beaumont Glass Factory site
  • Dumpster painting through volunteer and contracted services
  • Coordinate activities and support Sunnyside Neighborhood Association
  • Work with WVU Student Government Association
  • Work with City of Morgantown Rental Housing Advisory Committee
  • Maintain Sunnyside Up website and social media presence
  • Work with International Town-Gown Association
  • Develop student-led projects and supervise interns
  • Manage and update Sunnyside Up Business Database Program
  • Interact with current development projects in Sunnyside neighborhood
  • Organize annual retreat and monthly board meetings

This is described as a “partial list” of tasks.

Hunt describes the work plan as “the path to get the neighborhood back together.”

-Leann