augusta free press news

WDDI cutbacks aimed at long-term survivability

Waynesboro Downtown Development Inc. is cutting back hours for its paid staff to try to account for a cash-flow shortfall brought on by the continuing economic downturn. “This wasn’t an easy decision. But the reality is that the economy has negatively affected our events revenues and budget projections,” said Eileen O’Rourke, chair of the WDDI Promotions Committee and a member of the organization’s board of directors.

The board voted to cut the work weeks for executive director Kimberly Watters and events coordinator Rick Mawyer a day and to achieve a corresponding 20 percent savings in salaries, but both Watters and Moyer have opted to continue working full-time even with the salary decrease. “Now is not the time for a decrease in effort. We are both committed to our mission and are willing to tighten our personal belts to help ensure the work of this organization continues,” Watters said.

The news comes on the heels of a successful Taste of the Town fundraiser last week that added a reported $6,000 to the organization’s bottom line. Talk in City Hall circles before the Taste of the Town event, though, had been focused on questions about the ability of the nonprofit to make it to the end of the 2008-2009 fiscal year at the end of June given the budget challenges referenced above by O’Rourke. City Council members were reportedly informed two weeks ago to be prepared to consider approving an infusion of cash to help the downtown entity ride out the fiscal year.

There is some good news on the WDDI front. The organization is working on a major donor campaign aimed at getting it through the fiscal year that has already received the support of an anonymous donor to the tune of $2,000 to get things moving in the right direction to that end. WDDI is also a couple of weeks now into a Friends of WDDI campaign that offers supporters of the revitalization effort a chance to show where they stand with requested donations beginning at $25.

Friends of WDDI stickers are available at the WDDI office at 301 W. Main St., River City Art & Wine Emporium at 407 W. Main St. and Stone Soup Books and Cafe at 908 W. Main St.


Story by Chris Graham