YMCA director addresses the community about situation

Nearly 100 people turned out last night at the Tyrone Area YMCA auditorium to learn more about the organization’s recently revealed tax delinquency. The meeting was organized by Executive Director Amy Hampton to give members of the community a chance to air concerns, ask questions and otherwise learn more about the crisis that has the YMCA looking at nearly $70,000 in back federal and state payroll taxes.
Hampton welcomed the crowd and spoke briefly before fielding questions. She recapped how she discovered the delinquency after YMCA accountant John Ramsey, CPA introduced himself and welcomed her to her new position. Hampton took the reigns of the organization in March of this year. The previous director, Garth Erikson, left the YMCA in October and Board President John Harlow was acting director in the interim.
“I learned a decision was made to forego paying the taxes based on the YMCA’s financial status,” she said. Hampton said that she did not know who authorized, or knew of the decision, and stressed that the situation would not be repeated as long as she was director. She also noted that the Board of Directors was implementing a system of checks and balances, had hired a professionally trained bookkeeper and would be following standard accounting practices to guard against what she termed “mismanagement.”
She asked those gathered to be a part of helping an organization that serves at least 750 members in the northern Blair County area. “If the YMCA folds, there will be serious gaps in services for the area,” she said. “Don’t make a commitment to me, but to the organization.”
Once the floor was opened for discussion, a number of concerns were brought forward. Hampton was first asked what board members served throughout this period and it was suggested that they voluntarily step down from their positions.
Many in the audience asked where the Board of Directors was during this period and there were some frustrating moments when Hampton could not provide a specific answer.
“I called this meeting and purposely did not inform, or formally invite the Board,” she said. “I wanted the meeting to focus on what can now be done to deal with the situation.” She also added that she was not there to answer for the Board, but to seek input from the community as to how to handle the situation.
Concerns raised included:
• What will the YMCA do to avoid a similar situation in the past?
• What legal avenues are being looked at to go after who was responsible?
• Who was responsible?
• What Board of Directors Members were active during the term that the taxes were not paid?
• What is the YMCA’s financial status apart from the tax situation?
• Can the National YMCA help?
• Why didn’t the IRS notify the YMCA?
• Where there audits that would have pointed out the liability?
In tomorrow’s Daily Herald, answers to these questions as well as a look at other issues discussed at last night’s open forum at the YMCA.