Saturday, Oct 01, 2016
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COSI trims 3 jobs, to close on Mondays to slash deficit

COSI Toledo, facing a budget deficit of up $500,000, has cut three jobs and will be closed Mondays starting in November.

Dr. F. Michael Walsh, chairman of COSI's board of directors, said the science center in downtown Toledo anticipated a $300,000 shortfall in its $3.3 million operating budget for the 2005 fiscal year, which ended in June, because of declining support and attendance.

But COSI's budget incurred unanticipated expenses, including a severance package for outgoing President Bill Booth as well as an unforeseen payment to Exploratorium, a San Francisco-based science center.

Dr. Walsh said depending on how those "one-time hits" are handled - all absorbed in the current fiscal year or spread out over several fiscal years

- COSI will face anywhere from a $250,000 to $500,000 shortfall once the final reconciliation for the 2005 fiscal year is complete.

To address the deficits, COSI on Monday eliminated three positions: marketing manager, director of education, and an administrative assistant. COSI officials said that decision will save the organization about $100,000. The Monday closings will save another $30,000.

Lori Hauser, COSI's director of operations, called the staff cuts "unfortunate ... but we wanted to maintain our services."

She said customer feedback indicated COSI's visitors wanted more people "on the floor" servicing patrons directly, and noted that Mondays were the center's slowest business days.

Dr. Walsh said he believes COSI will never come close to balancing its budget without outside assistance. "There's no way we can get to a break-even or profitable situation without external help," he said.

The best COSI could hope for would be a $150,000 shortfall even with extreme budget tightening, he said.

In May, COSI officials approached the Lucas County commissioners about putting a 0.125-mill levy on the ballot which, if approved by voters, would have raised about $1.25 million annually.

However, COSI's executive committee decided in June to hold off on a levy request for at least a year.

"We have to think about [putting a levy on the ballot]. There's not too many other options," Dr. Walsh said.

He also said that COSI is working out the details of a partnership with several area universities to get PhD-level students to help develop the center's educational materials and content.

He said he hopes to get the partnership arrangements work-ed out within two weeks.

Contact Tad Vezner at:

tvezner@theblade.com

or 419-724-6050.

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