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Finance officer will report to board through treasurer, Playhouse president says

Playhouse supporters watch as the Flat Rock Village Council takes up funding request. Playhouse supporters watch as the Flat Rock Village Council takes up funding request.

FLAT ROCK — A managing director-controller that the Flat Rock Playhouse plans to hire next year will report independently to the Playhouse Board of Trustees, Playhouse president Bill McKibbin said Saturday.

McKibbin responded to a headline and story in the Hendersonville Lightning Friday that said the finance officer would report to Marini and not the board. While the financial manager will report to Marini, he or she also reports to the board through the treasurer, Marini can't fire the financial manager without board approval, he added.
During the deliberation of the Flat Rock Village Council before it voted to give the theater $100,000 on Thursday, Councilman Jimmy Chandler asked Playhouse president Bill McKibbin about the reporting arrangement.
The new financial officer will report to Marini, McKibbin said, and Marini reports to the board. He did not elaborate during the meeting. In an interview Saturday, McKibbin provided more details on the role and reporting arrangement of the financial officer, which the Board of Trustees is expected to ratify in its quarterly meeting today at the Flat Rock Playhouse.

The role in the non-profit industry is more commonly known as a managing director, McKibbin said, and it could be described that way in a job posting the Playhouse plans to make. He described it as a controller. County Commissioner "Larry Young has called it a financial overseer," he said.

"The hiring will be done with an ad hoc committee and Vincent will have input" in the process. The committee will narrow down the candidate list and the Playhouse executive committee or another committee will make the hire, McKibbin said. That's not been decided yet.

The managing director "reports to Marini but there's a direct line of communication and reporting to the board through the board treasurer," McKibbin said. "We're not breaking new ground. That's the way most non-profits work... I never said he's not reporting to the board. He'll report to the board through the treasurer."

After a few questions and Mayor Bob Staton's statement strongly supporting the Playhuse, the Villlage Council voted to unanimously to award the Playhouse $100,000 provided it passed the money along to United Community Bank to pay off part of its $2 million debt.

Matching a $100,000 challenge grant from an anonymous donor, the Village Council grant means the Playhouse has raised more than $450,000 since it announced a financial emergency to a gathering of community leaders on Nov. 13.
Playhouse board members and supporters applauded when the council unanimously approved the grant, which came from contingency funds and a budgeted community support account, not from the village's hefty $4.8 million reserves, said Councilman Dave Bucher, who is also the council's financial officer.
On Dec. 3, the council heard a longer presentation from McKibbin, Marini and development director Lynn Penny and heard from Flat Rock residents and a group of business leaders who strongly urged the council to help the struggling theater. The council's action Thursday by contrast came in a tightly scripted move that lasted less than 20 minutes.
"We're all aware of the county commissioners' recent criticism of the Playhouse and withholding funds previously committed to the Playhouse has had on public confidence and the survival of the Playhouse," said Staton, who is also a member of the Playhouse's Board of Trustees. Public confidence and "season subscription sales for 2013 both plummeted, he said.
"We're also aware of and grateful for the turnaround by Commissioner Larry Young, the Commission's very vocal Playhouse critic in chief, and now supporter of the county's funding of the Playhouse. That turn of events put the Playhouse back on a positive note, which has resulted in a return of public confidence in the Playhouse's survival and a resumption of season subscriptions.... "
"Much remains to be done to put the Playhouse in a position to ensure that it will move into the new year, the 2013 season and beyond. It appears that through the efforts of the Playhouse board, management and staff and the business community and individuals in the community with their support, that that's going to happen. The Playhouse will not only survive but it will continue to be an important part of our community life. The Village has a major part to play in that process and most of our citizens from whom I have heard and of course the business community expect us to step up and do our part."
Councilman Jim Wert endorsed the village donation.
"I heard Vincent Marini give a talk last week and there was no question they had their act together," he said.
Don Farr, who had been the toughest interrogator of Playhouse leaders last week, said he believed all along that the village needed to help ensure the theater's survival, provided it prove its commitment to a sound business plan.
" My concerns were all over fiscal management on a month by month basis," he said. "I do want to make sure it survives."

County commissioners have called for the financial officer arrangement, and Commissioner Larry Young made it a condition of an agreement to give the Playhouse the remaining $50,000 of a 2012-13 commitment of $100,000. Other business leaders who support the Playhouse have suggested confidence can't be fully restored unless a CEO is put in place over Marini.

McKibbin reiterated the board's support for Marini during the Playhouse news conference Tuesday. The producing artistic director has carried out the board's plans and strategies, McKibbin said, and has helped trim expenses, increase revenue and expand revenue streams.