To the editor:
A rush to judgment is underway to eliminate the city's recreation programs after 30 years of stellar service.
Despite the prudent fiscal stewardship of council members Sessom, Jones and Gastil, and their predecessors, and the fact that recreation programs are paying for themselves, a council faction is seeking the death of programs that put the "C" in "community." This faction touts the YMCA as the potential savior of our rec.
While an estimable institution, the Y has its own fiscal problems. This past week, Lemon Grove parents with children in after-school Y programs got letters stating their fee is rising from $40 to $100. Over the lengthy spring break, the Davis Y and other branches cancelled programs for lack of enrollment. The reason? Fees are too high for struggling parents.
By contrast, Lemon Grove rec programs were going full blast.
The East County YMCAs are linked and their overhead is huge. Were the Y to run Lemon Grove's programs, revenues would go to support its immense physical plants, assuming they enrolled enough kids to break even.
Fact: Lemon Grove is in a safe place with its rec programs, which generate $250,000 in revenue and, as the economy rebounds, will generate even more.
Fact: Rec programs are just 7 percent of city budget behind fire (27 percent), sheriff (35 percent), and public works (15 percent).
Fact: The city's current deficit is $152,000, not the hundreds of thousands, or even millions, bandied about by the heedless council faction. This deficit will drop before June 30 with other scheduled income to well below $100,000.
Fact: Our rec department is run by four and three-quarter employees, who also handle community services and are shoehorned into other departments as needed. Multitalented, multitasked employees are what every city wants and needs.
Fact: At the city's invitation, 12 volunteers met in a budget workshop on April 20 with City Manager Graham Mitchell. Independently of each other, these 12 ranked rec programs equally with paving streets, calling 911 and fire/sheriff in importance. Moreover, they suggested wise budget cuts amounting to some $400,000 or more. Will the council consider this input before it rushes to judgment on May 3?
Families, nonprofits and individuals who value, need and use community and recreation services need to be at the council meeting on Tuesday, May 3, at 6 p.m. in the Community Center or the whole department will be history on June 30.
It's up to you, Lemon Grovians!
To the editor:
Howard Cook is correct in his vote to let the YMCA take over the recreation department. Tom Clabby did not win the election, Howard did. That in itself should tell you something. It's going to be difficult at times to accept a person like Howard Cook on the City Council as we have not have someone with leadership skills for some time.
The best way to go is with the YMCA to take over the rec center. If the YMCA can operate the rec center with comparable programs at no cost to the city, we have nothing to lose. The small group of people who are against the YMCA takeover are the workers at the rec center. The mayor, Mary England and Howard Cook have made the right decision—it's not a easy decision, but the right one.
A rec center at a cost of $500,000 a year for a small city such as Lemon Grove is unbelievable. We are not the city of Bell. We need a budget that is going to let the city operate to serve all the people not just a few.
Wayne R. Buttron