BUSTI - The Busti-Lakewood Community Center director is not happy with the delay in funding from the Lakewood Village Board.
During the past couple meetings, the Lakewood Village Board has twice tabled the proposal to fund the recreation center $7,500. Diane Peterson, Busti-Lakewood Recreation Center director, said, in a prepared statement she read during a Busti Town Board meeting Nov. 19, the Busti-Lakewood Community Center has been a joint venture between the town and village since its beginning in the '70s, with Busti being the lead agency.
''The village and the town agreed to contribute equal amounts to fund the operating budget of the community center to provide what was needed,'' she said. ''This continued until the 2012 budget, when the village unfortunately cut their budget contribution in half.''
Busti-Lakewood Recreation Center
P-J photo by Dennis Phillips
Last year, how much money the village and town paid toward the recreation center started the debate on if one municipality is paying more for shared services. In October 2011, the Village Board tabled funding the commission $15,000 before agreeing to appropriate $7,500. The board agreed one reason to lower the amount of funding was the recreation center had a surplus of more than $80,000. The board agreed if all the money isn't being used each year, maybe the amount appropriated should be decreased.
Peterson said some years have seen a surplus of monies that have gone directly into the fund balance, which is earmarked solely for building repairs or replacement.
''This fund balance is not, and never has been, used for the operating expenses, but only for maintaining the building,'' she said. ''Rather, it appears all they (Lakewood Village Board) have done is to look at the fund balance of the rec center and decide that it should be used to fund the 2013 budget. Again, the fund balance is designated completely to bring the building up to code.''
Peterson said she has invited village trustees to visit and see how the community center operates and what needs to be rebuilt, refurbished or remodeled.
''None of the trustees have even called me, as the director, to have this discussion,'' she said. ''Furthermore, the village of Lakewood trustees have been relentless to the town of Busti about paying their fair share of the police department. They should use their own example and pay their fair share of the recreation budget. It is difficult to believe that during the village dissolution meetings and vote that their own Village Board would be the ones to take the lead in closing their beloved recreation program.''
Peterson said about 60 percent of those who use the rec center are village residents. The director said the other 40 percent is a combination of Busti and surrounding area residents.
''To stop funding from the village could greatly impact the most users of the rec center,'' she said.
Peterson said the following are things that might happen should the Village Board choose to not support their portion of the Busti-Lakewood Recreation Center:
Lakewood residents would see an increase in fees;
All users would see an increase in fees;
All groups using the community center would have to pay to use it, including Southwestern Central School District sports teams, Lakewood Women's Club, Amy King run event organizers and other benefits;
Use money in fund balances that is earmarked for building repairs or replacement;
End joint service with the village of Lakewood;
Village of Lakewood will lose state funding for youth programs;
Cut programs that are vital for today's youth and seniors;
Charge village of Lakewood of use for rec center for elections; and
Completely close the recreation program and community center.
After the Lakewood Village Board's last meeting, David Wordelmann, Lakewood mayor, said there is some confusion on the revenues for the recreation commission, which is why the trustees tabled the funding motion.
''In the budget they gave us detailing revenues, it didn't show the town revenue in it. We asked for an update on that and we didn't receive anything,'' he said. ''Normally, they have a $15,000 figure for the town. We just want clarification on that.''
The Busti Town Board has funded the recreation center more than $15,000 in its 2013 budget, according to Peterson.