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GS council on the verge of bankruptcy

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This is from the Martinsville (Indiana) Reporter-times.


I thought you all might be interested.











Board member Mike Sallee Tuesday night helped explain how the Girl Scouts of Tulip Trace Council ended up $1 million in debt and on the verge of bankruptcy.


He sat behind a table at the Scout Cabin in Lintons Humphreys Park facing about 25 Girl Scout volunteers who all wondered where the money went and what the future holds for members in south-central Indiana.


Sallee said the volunteers concerns are valid and that channels of communication will improve. And that girl scouting will carry on.


One tough reality: Camp Belmont, a longtime Girl Scout camp in Brown County, most likely will be sold to pay off the councils debt.


Sallee, the boards treasurer, said the board invested more than $1 million for renovations to the new Girl Scout headquarters on 17 acres in the 5500 block of Ind. 46, a former John Deere farm implement dealership. He said it seemed prudent then to spend money on the building since the board believed Tulip Traces consolidation with councils in Terre Haute and Evansville would require a Bloomington base.


The merger plans for Tulip Trace Council, which covered 15 counties in south-central Indiana, fell through. So it was then determined that Tulip Trace would consolidate with the Central Indiana Council based in Indianapolis.


But when the local financial troubles came to light this month, that merger was canceled. Now, according to board members at Tuesday nights meeting in Linton, Tulip Trace must either sell its assets and dissolve, or declare bankruptcy. Either way, the scouts in the district will be served by the Indianapolis council.


Sallee explained to the volunteers that the construction project at the new headquarters on Ind. 46 that will no longer be needed, a drop in donations and a struggling economy all combined to put the nearly 50-year-old council, based in Bloomington, into debt from which it cannot recover.


Decisions that were made then would never be made today, Sallee said. At the time, we had a cash flow, donors willing to support us and a different economic environment. But now? We have a building and no money to pay it off. This is all brand-new to us.


Interim Tulip Trace CEO Carol Keierleber, who came in April after the previous leader resigned, answered pointed questions and assured the women present that girl scouting will continue and that Tulip Traces leadership, as long as the council exists, will welcome their input and concerns.


She said the council had not been trying to hide what was happening, but that instead they were not aware of the changes and the status of the consolidation.


When talk turned to concern over the much-talked-about sale of the 283-acre Camp Belmont in Brown County, which Tulip Trace has owned since the 1960s, Sallee was honest.


I think all of our properties will be sold, I do, he said.


Keierleber said the merger with Indianapolis is inevitable and part of a predestined nationwide plan. Tulip Traces financial situation, though, makes it even more imminent.


The council does not have enough cash to last until the end of the year, she said. You have to merge, or do something. The money will run out.


Girl Scouts of Tulip Trace Council is an independent not-for-profit organization, chartered by Girl Scouts of the USA. According to its Web site, the council, in partnership with adult volunteers, serves nearly 3,000 girls ages 5-17 and 1,500 adult volunteers in 15 south-central Indiana counties.


The jurisdiction has included Bartholomew, Brown, Decatur, Greene, Jackson, Jennings, Lawrence, Monroe, Orange, Owen, Ripley, Scott, Sullivan and Switzerland counties and parts of Morgan county. The council was chartered in 1962.



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Tulip Trace Council has been history since 2006 anyway thanks to GSUSA's realignment of it's councils.


It sounds like it turned into a hot potato for the realigned councils in it's area thanks to it's financial situation. Neither of the new council groups wanted to take on the debt. Tulip Trace dissolving, and/or declaring bankruptcy, is simply an expedient financial move for the realigned council group taking over it's area.


I think with the realignment of councils into "mega" councils you are going to see a lot of GSUSA property put up for sale. That includes offices and camps.


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It seems that Tulip Trace seriously jumped the gun by building a new HQ before the merger even took place.


When the old GS council to which my wife and daughters belonged started talking merger, the one thing that was certain was that anything having to do w/ old council offices & local GS camps being sold and/or built was on hold until the ink was dry on the paperwork. After that, we were told, they would move forward. The merger is done and as of right now, all camps involved are still open and former offices are now regional offices. Whether that stays the case remains to be seen.


I'm just glad to see that the girls will still be served by the Indianapolis council regardless of what happens.


- Charlie

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Tex-Mex Dad said exactly what I was gonna say: what in the world were those folks thinking?


Whoever on the Council Board approved that project, before the merger was even finalized, s/b dismissed and barred from ever serving on another GS Board, period. All of the Council officers s/b dismissed and barred from ever serving GSUSA again.


I know those actions won't save this council, but should serve as a lesson to other councils.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Many of us asked the same question of the board of directors almost 3 years ago - What are you thinking?


Now a question from the membership of this wrecked council - what recourse is there? Granted it's too late to effectively do anything for our council, but what about legal review? Is there a body that will review this train wreck & assess responsibility? If not, then is there any recourse to assign responsibility?

Otherwise what possible lesson is there to other councils and other boards of non-profits?


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