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Third member leaves Maryland Theatre board

January 27, 1997

By ELLEN LYON

Staff Writer

The third Maryland Theatre board member to resign this month stepped down Friday, citing concerns about the role of the still-to-be-hired director and possible violations of the theater's loan agreement with some local banks.

City of Hagerstown Downtown Coordinator Karen Giffin said she had a philosophical difference with others on the board about what kind of a director should be hired to run the historic downtown theater.

"I really felt we needed an executive director," said Giffin, a board member since July. "I think that you need competent staff."

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But the board has decided to hire a managing director to do computer entry and office work, she said.

In her Jan. 21 resignation letter, Giffin wrote that, "as I voiced at the last board meeting, I believe that a director who could negotiate contracts, coordinate fund-raising events and serve as a liaison to the community is needed for the future growth of The Maryland Theatre."

Staff should handle the daily operations of the theater and do some fund-raising while the board sets policy and also raises funds, Giffin said Friday.

"I have a different view of how the board works with staff," she said.

Theater Board President Pat Wolford, who also has been serving as acting director since last summer, said the board never considered or advertised an executive director position.

The theater's last executive director, Kelley Gilbert, was dismissed from her job on June 5.

The only position approved by the board was a managing director position, although Giffin's boss, Hagerstown Mayor Steven T. Sager, applied in December to be executive director of the theater, Wolford said.

The board decided it did not have enough money to hire an executive director.

Giffin also wrote in her letter that "I was disturbed at hearing that The Maryland Theatre may be in violation of its loan agreement."

Farmers & Merchants Bank and Trust is the lead bank for a group holding a $250,000 mortgage on the theater. The mortgage was taken out in 1994 when the theater was in the midst of a funding crisis.

Giffin said she was referring to the fact that the theater hasn't had a recent audit.

An audit was due in September, but Wolford wrote the banks asking if one could be done after Dec. 31 because the end of the theater's fiscal year has changed from June 30 to Dec. 31, she said. She said she received no reply.

Wolford also asked the banks holding the theater's mortgage to pay for an audit, but they refused, she said.

Smith Elliott Kearns & Co., a certified public accounting firm in Hagerstown, has agreed to do an audit of the theater for about $5,000, Wolford said.

Giffin said she also was troubled by a letter written by Martha K. Anders, who said she resigned Dec. 27 as the theater's administrative assistant after seeing Wolford throw out some records.

"I thought we should have looked into that, whether those records should be kept," Giffin said.

Some old records were purged, Wolford said Monday, but records from 1991 forward have been kept.

The Internal Revenue Service requires that only the current year's records, plus those for the last three years, be retained, Wolford said.

An IRS official confirmed that financial records must be kept for three years from the last return and employment tax records must be kept for five years.

Earlier this month, theater board members Frances Young and Heather Sutton turned in their resignations.

Young, who was serving her third three-year term, said she resigned so that she could spend more time on other activities and with her family.

Sutton, a board member since last June, did not return repeated telephone calls.

Eight people remain on the theater board.

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