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Benton Girl Scouts leader pushes for equal revenue distribution

By: 19 May 2011 7 Comments

Lorielle Gutting said she’s seen it for six years — money from Girl Scouts Cookies sales leave Saline County, but rarely does the cash make it back to the area when the funds are distributed to throughout the state.

Gutting, the leader of Troop 6456 in Benton, said she’d like to see one of two things happen — either less revenue is taken by the Girls Scouts from cookie sales or more attention is paid to central Arkansas. To understand her concerns, one must first have a grasp on how revenue from Girl Scouts cookie sales is distributed.

This year, a box of Girl Scouts cookies cost $3.50 in Arkansas. That money, however, didn’t all stay local. In fact, only 17 percent — 59.5 cents per box — made it back to the troops that sell the cookies. As for the rest, 26 percent of each box (91 cents) went to cover the costs of the cookies and the marketing materials necessary to sell them, 46 percent ($1.61) went back to pay for programs put on by the Diamond Council which oversees troops in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas and 11 percent ( 38.5 cents) went to cover general Diamonds expenses.

In short, Gutting said the Diamonds take 57 percent of the revenue from cookies sales and that money is to be distribute around the state for various programs. However, she said that other parts of Arkansas have received considerably more money generated by cookie sales than has the central part of the state.

“I do not recall the Council holding training or an event in Saline County,” she said. “This summer, I will have to drive to Mena for training to be able to take my troop camping. The training session is called a facilitator training, which means that I will be able to train other leaders.

“It would seem that if a leader has been asking for six years about training, it would have been prudent to send someone to train me. I could have trained so many other leaders in Saline County and surrounding counties during the last six years if they would have provided me with training.”

Gutting added that she’s received word that the Saline County Service Center — a Girl Scouts facility in Benton where meetings and programs are held — will be shut down in October for lack of funding. Furthermore, she said the physical exams that are necessary for scouts  attending summer camps are available for free this year in Fort Smith, Jonesboro and Texarkana but were not made available in Little Rock or any other central Arkansas location.

Gutting pointed out that some area institutions have stepped up to help out the scouts. Meetings, for example, will be held at Parkview United Methodist Church in Benton this fall while a Benton doctor has volunteered to hold exams in her office for scouts. Those efforts, however, were coordinated locally and not by the Diamonds.

Gutting said she’d like to see one of two things happen — either the Diamonds allocate more resources for central Arkansas scouts or they reduce their share of cookie sales revenue from 57 percent to 50 percent, with the remaining money going to local troops.

“The Council is offering programs and events that are too far away,” she said. “This is one of the concerns that I raised. I believe if the Council is going to take 57 percent of the cookie sales, then we should be able to benefit from the programs and services that they say go to the girls. We certainly can’t feasibly do so if it’s all allocated to other portions of the state.”

Gutting said she is optimistic that a more equitable allocation of programs and services is in the works. An April 29 letter from Diamonds Chief Executive Officer Denise Stewart to Gutting does address the bulk of Gutting’s concerns.

In that letter, Stewart said a full-time training is being added to the staff and that individual will be the one to offer training to leaders throughout the Council. Furthermore, the letter states the Council is in the midst of looking at its properties, programs and services and considering how to divide up the money it has to support the activities benefiting troops throughout its coverage area.

Gutting said she’s looking forward to addressing how funds are allocated. Hopefully, those discussions will yield positive results. The only recourse a troop has if it feels its getting the short end of the stick is to refuse to sell Girl Scouts cookies — a move Gutting said is best avoided.

About: Ethan C. Nobles:
Benton resident. Rogue journalist. Recovering attorney. Email = Ethan@FirstArkansasNews.net.

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