Thursday, January 29, 2009

Big Challenges for KAXE in the Year of the Ox

by Maggie Montgomery

The lunar year 4706 is a Year of the Ox, according to the 12-year Chinese zodiac. The Ox is a sign of prosperity through fortitude and hard work. Oxes (Ox people wouldn’t be called “Oxen” would they?) are dependable, calm and modest. They are logical but have great imagination and appreciation for beauty. They speak little but with intelligence. They can be articulate and eloquent. They are tenacious and self-sacrificing and make good parents and teachers. President O’Bama and KAXE’s Scott Hall are both Oxes.

The Year of the Ox will be a tough one financially for KAXE. Like many nonprofits, our organization has received news of serious budget cuts. KAXE’s 2009 budget started out $42,000 smaller than it was in 2008. But that budget was created last summer. We just learned that the State will pay us only $12,000 of the $35,180 that was appropriated for the station last year, and KAXE’s endowment lost so much money that the station will have to forego the budgeted $16,000 annual distribution. These items total $39,000, and more losses may be coming.

Some nonprofit organizations are in imminent danger of “going under.” For example, we have seen a rather dire letter to the editor in the Pioneer newspaper from a board member of the Headwaters Science Center in Bemidji. We have read warnings of possible closure and pleas for funds in the Cedar Cultural Center newsletter.

KAXE entered the current recession in good shape. The organization has some money in the bank to maintain cash flow and has no long-term debt. In this, KAXE is definitely Ox-like. Oxes are not extravagant. Being in debt makes them nervous. KAXE will not go under—but it will also not go untouched.

KAXE’s response to the financial challenges will be like the Ox. The station has always been frugal. The staff and volunteers are hardworking and will selflessly do a wonderful job with fewer resources. Oxes have many friends, so we’ll look for more friends ask current members to pitch in just a little bit more.

We will also make further budget cuts. At this point, those cuts will have to go deeper and will likely include the station’s retirement plan, a reduction in the quality of our health care plan and, possibly, staff lay-offs. These things are very difficult to contemplate, let alone do. I hope the measures will be temporary.

I wish all of you prosperity this year, through fortitude and hard work! If you have reactions or ideas for us, please let us know!

NOTE: Our family celebrates Chinese New Year because our daughter-in-law, Siau Yean, is from Malaysia, and her family is of Chinese ethnicity. Celebrating the New Year in northern Minnesota connects her to family and friends at home. The pictures on this blog are from our family’s New Year’s Eve celebration and include an Ox (Babe, of course. This is Minnesota!), some hot pots (for cooking Tom Yum soup communally, as a family), and fireworks (firecrackers are supposed to scare away evil spirits).

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