News-Sun photo by KATARA SIMMONS The county is trying to work out a plan for helping fund maintenance costs at city owned ball fields and parks.
published: Friday, June 22, 2012
County mulls four proposed recreation spending plans
By ED BALDRIDGE
SEBRING -- County commissioners received a presentation and options Tuesday from the Recreation and Parks Advisory Committee about how to reimburse municipalities facility maintenance, but decided to take no immediate action.
Ned Hancock, chair of RPAC, presented four options to the commission during his presentation of a sub-committee put together for the purpose.
Hancock's presentation was prompted in January when Commissioner Don Elwell asked if there could be a "better" way to address the funding of the county's recreation.
The board decided in January to give all three municipalities $110,000 for the operation and maintenance of city owned and operated recreational parks and facilities.
"We are looking at options to make it more fair and equitable," Hancock told the commission.
Option one included the municipalities getting 60 percent of their actual maintenance costs refunded for ball fields and $33,000 for all other parks.
The first option also included an increase of 10 percent per year of that initial funding until 100 percent was funded by the county.
Option two put all of the maintenance of parks and sporting facilities into the county's hands.
Option three included the 60 percent funding which increased to 100 percent with 10 percent yearly increases, but included the entire recreation budget for the cities and did not differentiate between pay-for-play and passive recreation.
Option three had a complete price tag of $557,533 far higher than the $330,000 the county spent last year.
Option four included, according to Hancock, implementing a Municipal Service Benefit District, or MSBU, that placed the fee on the taxpayers.
Hancock pointed out that the committee preferred option one.
Commissioner Don Elwell, who took the gavel after board chairman Jack Richie left for family reasons, stated he felt taxpayers were already sharing their part of the burden.
"People in municipalities are paying more than once for recreation, they are paying twice," Elwell said.
Elwell stood by his conviction that it was the responsibility of those using the fields to share the 50-60 percent of the maintenance.
"I don't mind the county assisting, but I'm not comfortable going up to 100 percent," Elwell said.
Commissioner Barbara Stewart reminded her peers the board could make no decision without first identifying available funds and the county was already late in getting a budget.
"We may not have enough money in our budget this year," Stewart said about recreational funding.
Recreational Funding (by: tom walsh - 6/23/2012)
If the general population could use the facilities, I have no problem with the county assisting in the maintenance of the parks and recreational facilities. However, with facilities like the ball fields on Sheriffs Tower Rd and the Max Long Complex, for example, the general population cannot use them. They are all used by various leagues. In that case, since it is the league players who are responsible for the deterioration of these facilities, they should be totally responsible for their upkeep.
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