Future ‘unknown’ for employees at Severson Dells Nature Center
ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - In 2022 the Forest Preserves of Winnebago County voted to end its funding agreement with Severson Dells Nature Center.
Currently, the Forest Preserve District pays the nature center employees with the understanding that Severson Dells Foundation will reimburse that money.
However, Tilly says inflation and other extra costs caused a deficit, so a new agreement must be signed. While the district will provide some services to the center, Tilly says payroll must be handled by Severson Dells.
Even though a termination letter was given to Severson Dells Representatives, Winnebago County Forest Preserve Board President Jeff Tilly tells 23 News the board doesn’t want to stop working with them.
“We definitely are doing what we can to partner with them. I know the committee has met with them. They have provided them with some information in regards to human resources abilities, payroll to help transition them over,” said Tilly.
The center’s board vice president, Catherine Povalitis, says that will require more fundraising efforts and could force the center to cancel programs and classes.
“We will have to amp up our fundraising efforts obviously to take into consideration the funds we’ll be needing employees and provide the benefits they deserve”, she told 23 News.
According to Dells representatives, if this transition happens, the Forest Preserves of Winnebago County will be the only taxpayer funded conservation agency in the state without an education department.
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