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CARES Elfers Center seeks to erase $30,000 deficit

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One year after its grand reopening, the CARES Elfers Center is in a financial bind that could lead to reduction in hours or higher fees for many programs.

To ward off those calamitous options and erase a $30,000 deficit, CARES is appealing to supporters to buy a Booster Club Card, CARES President and CEO Bill Aycrigg said Wednesday.

Even though the card costs $50 a year, Aycrigg said that 40 boosters had signed up as of last Friday, after the first week the card became available. CARES hopes to attract some 400 boosters.

CARES is stepping up efforts to find sponsors for specific activities or rooms at the $500 or $1,000 level in the historic building at 4136 Barker Drive. The center could use long-term legacy gifts that offer tax reductions.

“We Can’t Spell S-ccess Without U,” a banner reads on a CARES Elfers Center flyer.

CARES covered some losses last year, after the 1914 schoolhouse building reopened in May 2013, Aycrigg recalled. Pasco County owns the building that CARES leases, he noted.

Elfers Center had been shuttered for nearly eight years to fix structural problems and renovate the building.

“We are very pleased with the Elfers Center after it reopened,” Aycrigg commented. The number of visitors has perhaps quadrupled compared to previous years.

The center offers many activities at night and weekends, which means more overhead to keep the lights on and other expenses.

The center typically experiences a summer slowdown in the number of visitors after winter residents return to northern homes. The center dropped the word “senior” from its name last year as it broadened programs that appeal to all ages.

A June meeting of the CARES board could determine if more drastic options are needed to balance the Elfers Center budget, Aycrigg said. The most likely options include a cutback in hours the center is open or raising fees for individual programs.

“The committee is reviewing all options,” he said.

For additional information, contact center director Evie parks at eparks@caresfl.org or (727) 847-1290, or Aycrigg at baycrigg@caresfl.org or (727) 862-9291, exts. 2024 or 2026.

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