The East Baton Rouge Council on Aging was forced to take out an emergency $50,000 bank loan in order to meet payroll at the end of July, agency Director Tasha Clark Amar said Wednesday.

Amar told the Council on Aging’s board of directors at its regular monthly meeting that she signed to personally guarantee the loan would be repaid to Hancock Bank within 60 days.

After the meeting, Amar said she is still trying to untangle the “financial web” she inherited when she took over as director July 1.

“We ran out of money because we didn’t budget well,” Amar said. “There’s no other way around it. We weren’t prepared.”

She said the agency was short of operating funds when the fiscal year ended June 30 and lacked any reserves to tide it over until state grant funds for the new fiscal year could be received.

The Council on Aging’s newly hired finance director, Eva Pratt, told board members that agency officials initially hoped to draw from a line of credit at the bank to make payroll.

Pratt said they discovered that the agency’s $75,000 line of credit had been exhausted and converted to an installment loan.

“We currently owe a balance of about $59,000 on it,” Pratt said.

Board Chairman Ernest Stephens said the board authorized the line of credit in September 2009, but it was supposed to have been repaid before now.

Top stories in Baton Rouge in your inbox

Twice daily we'll send you the day's biggest headlines. Sign up today.

“The problem is it wasn’t paid off when it should have been,” Stephens said.

Amar said taking out the 60-day, $50,000 loan was the only option to insure the agency’s staff members received their paychecks at the end of July.

She said she did a telephone poll of the agency’s board members before borrowing the money to meet the payroll.

She said the loan is being repaid from operating funds in two installments of $25,000 each.

Amar said she has cut the staff from 80 to 52 to address some of the fiscal problems the agency is facing and is aggressively seeking more grants to help fund its operations.

The nonprofit agency gets $3.5 million annually in federal, state and local tax money to help seniors lead independent and active lives.

Its programs include Meals on Wheels for the homebound, the Senior Olympics and social activities at senior centers.

In other business Wednesday, Amar told board members she has been in discussions with managers of Picadilly Cafeteria about possibly becoming a vendor to provide meals at senior centers and for the Meals on Wheels program.