Budget cuts park events
But they could return
under new director
December 15, 2010 - It's official. Independence Township Parks and Recreation's special events and Deer Lake Beach staffing and swim lessons are cut, unless a new Parks and Rec director can figure out a way to save them.
"It's going to be up to the director to prove to myself and Mr. (Rick) Yaeger (deputy supervisor) and then of course the board that he is able to perform at the level we expect him too," Supervisor Dave Wagner said. "The programs must be close to breakeven. We're not going to continue down the same path where we lose unbelievable sums of money just because."
The board approved Wagner's budget 5-2, Dec. 7. Trustees Neil Wallace and David Lohmeier were the dissenting votes.
"I'm very pleased the budget was approved," Wagner said. "I wish the vote would have been unanimous but it was quite obvious it wasn't going to be."
He was pleased the board examined the budget thoroughly and did "an overall analysis of the situation and deep dive." However, Wallace argued it wasn't deep enough.
"These are community defining things and I believe a way can be found to systematically find out what is working and isn't working and cut in that respect," Wallace said. "I guess do a bit of surgery instead of taking a meat axe to it."
Lohmeier said he will support the majority of the board, because he knows it's "a team sport," but he definitely believes it could have been better.
"Because the financial circumstances weren't as dire this year as they were last year, people were willing to approve a budget before it was as good as it could be," he said. "They called it done much too early and the cuts are irreversible."
As an unmanned beach with no lifeguards and no swim lessons, Lohmeier said for most people Deer Lake is "effectively closed" and he's urging residents to call the supervisor's office to let him know how they feel and ask the budget be revisited.
Wagner pointed out both Clarkston Schools and Deer Lake Racquet Club offer swim lessons.
Trustee Larry Rosso said the board was "spinning their wheels" trying to pick apart the budget.
"We've regurgitated this over and over with an extra meeting per month, which I'm not sure has been anymore effective than when we had two meetings a month to come to the same conclusion in December to pass a budget," he said. "I'm not rushing this budget, but I don't know what else can be added or subtracted that would generate all the programs, all the activities, all the personnel and still function within the revenue we have been dealt with."
Carson also agreed.
"We've been working on this budget well over 11 months, this budget has been vetted more than any other budget in township history," he said. "This budget is structurally sound."
Lohmeier believed lifeguards could have been saved had Wagner been willing to give up an estimated $80,000 for a "personal secretary," who has not been hired yet.
"He needs to sacrifice that unnecessary position to keep the benefits to the township they value," Lohmeier said.
Carson pointed out Parks and Rec. was getting an extra $9,000 from the general fund than they were given last year. So, he wasn't dismissing any events.
"They're (parks and rec) going to be receiving in 2011 those same dollars they made all these programs work this year with those dollars," he said.
"I'm not counting anything out of the parks and rec services at this point. If for some reason they come up with issues then there are going to be areas they're going to have to decide to cut to stay within their budget."
Wagner said next year the township is going back to two meetings a month, instead of three, and department directors will submit written reports on increases or decreases in their departments.
"Rick (Yeager) is going to be working on that. He's going to be the point man," Wagner said. "We played a game for two years and I'm fed up."
Trevor graduated with degrees in English and communications from Rochester College. He wrote for his college and LA View newspapers before joining The Clarkston News in May 2007.