Village Recreation budget discussed
By Terry Duffy
Village of Youngstown trustees had their hands full with a series of lengthy meetings Thursday, marking a return to business following last month's village elections that saw uncontested wins by Mayor Raleigh Reynolds and trustees Stu Comerford and Mark Fox.
Leading off was a joint meeting of village trustees and the Recreation Commission. The session grew contentious at times as discussions focused on the Rec Commission budget and talk of cuts; just as their new fiscal year opens and the summer children's programs are about to get underway. Reynolds and board members informed of $7,000 in cuts to the Rec Commission budget as of June 1, and cast the blame primarily on sales taxes, of which roughly one-half of the village's operating revenue is derived.
"So what recommendations do you have for us (where) a good chunk of our budget is spent in March and May, how can you assure us we are going to have that money next year?" asked Rec Commission Kim Cudmore.
She talked of potential cuts in children's programs at Falkner Park: "Is that still the case? Or is there money for us to spend on the children's programs, for events this summer?"
She said the Rec Commission has a number of summer program spending needs it is trying to cover, with funds used from both the past budget and in planning ahead for the 2018-19 budget.
"When we get to May of next year, that money for programs just isn't going to be there because it's already gone," she said.
Reynolds assured her that, under the village's budget plan for the coming year, any funding eyed for the summer programs will be there.
"Any summer programs that you have had planned, that you put in the budget, there is no reason to change any of that. Those can all still go on," he said.
As discussions continued on this year's summer program planning, but with less funding, talk turned to other revenue options for the Rec Commission - namely soliciting. Cudmore, noting a willingness to assist from KeyBank, which has stepped forward with an offer of funding, asked the board, "So how do we go about getting that? Any suggestions?"
She went on to tell village officials the Rec Commission does, indeed, solicit funding, pointing to the Nancy Price Memorial 5K Run, which goes to support its scholarship fund.
"We solicit for Nancy Price, we send out sponsor letters. ... Could we maybe ask for them (Key Bank) to sponsor the summer children's' programs?" Cudmore asked.
Reynolds and trustees were hesitant to answer and referred the matter later on to Village Attorney Thomas J. Caserta Jr.
In his comments, Caserta also expressed some reservations. He said, "If someone on a team wants to reach out ... and say, 'Joe's Barbershop will you sponsor us,' that's one thing. If the village reaches out, that's a different thing."
Commission members told of similar soliciting done by Town of Lewiston Recreation, namely to support the Lewiston Family Ice Rink.
"I understand that; I just want to be super-cautious. I don't want to violate the law (here). There has to be a way because it's done; I just want to be absolutely certain" on this, Caserta said. He told Rec Commission members he will research the matter further and come up with an answer.
In other news:
•Village trustees moved to the annual organizational meeting, where a number of procedural appointments and approvals were made. Appointments included: Timothy Lockhart, deputy mayor; Wendy Brown, clerk-treasurer (four-year term); Amy Freiermuth, deputy clerk treasurer (four-year term); Todd Muller, DPW superintendent (four-year-term); Caserta, attorney; John Stevens, building inspector; GHD Group, village engineer; Rotella Grant Management, village grant writer; Brown, registrar; Freiermuth, deputy registrar; Frederick Braun, Planning Board; and Lisa Lucas, Zoning Board of Appeals (five-year term).
Approvals included: Designating KeyBank and NYCLASS as village depositories; approving the village's ethics policy, investment policy, work place violence policy, unlawful harassment policy and bidding policy; and petty cash expenditures.
Other approvals included: setting the village mileage allowance at .545 cents per mile; approving the procurement policy; the setting of regular and special meetings for village trustees; the advance approval of claims; approval of village attendance at schools/conferences; and designating the official newspaper.
•In their regular meeting later on, village trustees discussed the ongoing senior van replacement issue. Town of Porter Supervisor Duffy Johnston, who earlier this year awarded the village $15,000 in assistance funding toward the van purchase from a grant by New York State Sen. Robert Ortt's office, visited with trustees to discuss updates on a new van. He spoke of one possible vehicle option: A 2018 Dodge Caravan from Joe Cecconi Chrysler in Niagara Falls for a purchase price of approximately $24,000.
"I'd like you to consider that," Johnston said. He told the board he was aware Trustee Mark Fox has also been busy searching van replacement options.
In trustee discussions later, Fox said he had been researching the matter and arrived at a preferred option for the village to consider - following lengthy discussion with village van drivers, senior riders and the practicality of transporting passengers, with either vehicle. Fox said his choice would be for a 2018 Chrysler Pacifica over the Caravan.
"It's more doable for the drivers and the riders," he said. Fox noted the van has a larger, more accessible passenger area for senior passengers. Its asking price would be in the $28,000 range for a 2018 model or roughly $300 more for a 2019 model.
The matter was left with the village opting to pursue additional bids on a like vehicle from dealers per the vehicle specs requested by Fox, subject to review by Caserta.