Porter discusses recreation funding issuesby jmaloni
by Terry Duffy
Recreational funding occupied portions of what was otherwise a low-key Town of Porter Board meeting, earlier this month at Town Hall. While certainly not on the level in the Town of Lewiston, which this week saw its referendum proposal for a multi-million recreation center go down to defeat, the funding discussions did create some waves.
One involved a routine request by Town Supervisor Mert Wiepert for the board to approve and have him sign a $750 contract with Town of Wilson Youth Baseball. Town residents represent roughly 34 percent of the participants in Wilson Youth Baseball, and the $750 would reflect the town's share of the operations cost. Approval appeared to be a given until Town Councilman Joe Fleckenstein spoke up.
"How much does Wilson fund the town rec department?" asked Fleckenstein, noting that a significant number of participants in the town's summer recreation program participants are from the Town of Wilson. When the answer came back, "Zero," Fleckenstein shot back, "We shouldn't be sending them anything. It should be a wash. It's not right. We accept their kids for nothing.
"Send some money to us, and we'll help them."
Town Recreation Director Kathy Zasucha commented that it would cost the town five times the amount Wilson was requesting if Porter operated its own youth baseball program. She also noted that Wilson baseball has done a variety of in-kind services, notably improvements to the baseball field at W.H. Stevenson Elementary School in Ransomville.
"And who owns that?" Fleckenstein asked. "The Wilson School District. I'd like to know their response."
Fleckenstein suggested the two towns get together to discuss the funding issue; board members concurred and tabled the request for the time being.
In other recreation-funding news, a request came from Highway Superintendent Scott Hillman for a new tractor at Porter on the Lake Park to handle mowing. Hillman offered two proposals from the vendor, Bentley Brothers in Albion, ranging from purchasing a new $30,000 tractor with $9,000 in trade-in allowances provided for the town's older equipment, lowering the cost to $21,585, to leasing a new tractor at a cost of $8,000 per year to the town, with an option to purchase after two years.
The purchase idea didn't go over well with town bookkeeper Norm Ault. On a question regarding budgeted funding for equipment from Fleckenstein, who noted a $30,000 available equipment balance for POTL, Ault replied, "The town has $42,000 in the Porter on the Lake accounts, to cover everything." He indicated the POTL funding for all park needs has been accumulating over the past two years, a total of $30,000 is available for equipment and when that is exhausted any future needs would need to come from park's fund balance account. He didn't appear enthused on the prospect of spending the budgeted equipment money on a single lawn tractor purchase, telling the board, "If the town spends this, its budget for Porter on the Lake would be exhausted."
Board members suggested the lease option would be best for the town's needs. That would see the town leasing the vehicle with a buyout option of $23,758 after two years versus an outright purchase of $21,585, which would put a significant dent in the POTL account, said Ault.
"Then we need to determine the best approach," said Fleckenstein of the lease option, a move that also won the support of Wiepert and Deputy Supervisor Tom Baia. Board members went on to approve the lease option soon after.
In still more recreation news, Zasucha informed the board that 385 children have registered for the town's summer rec programs. "We're averaging 208 kids per day in the programs," said Zasucha, adding the numbers are higher than anticipated and their largest number are middle school-age students. The summer rec program continues till mid-August.
•The board briefly reviewed preliminary specs with town engineer Dave Brittain for a new water tank under consideration for the existing tank site on Balmer Road. Brittain presented options for models and quotes for a new tank, which would have a capacity of 650,000 gallons. Prices ranged from $1.68 million for a Waterspheriod type tank (its shape likened to a golf ball mounted on tee); to $1.83 million for a composite tank (a traditional welded steel tank on a concrete platform) - with $200,000 budgeted for contingency issues. Britain said the cost of restoring the existing tank would be $850,000.
Board members took no action that evening and were expected to discuss the matter further with Brittain en route to next month's meeting.
•The board approved the bid of $54,200 plus contingency costs to Tuscarora Roofing for replacement of the Town Hall roof.
•The town forwarded a request to State Assemblywoman Jane Corwin and State Sen. George Maziarz, for the state to re-examine the gross gate receipts assessments for CWM Chemical Services. The request to increase the 6 percent gate receipts assessment, one which has been in place for roughly 40 years, was put forth by the town with CWM's application to the state Department of Environment Conservation for expansion of its Balmer Road facility now pending and a decision expected over the coming year or less.