Rec board awaits opinion on use of taxes

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 9, 2000

FERRIDAY, La. – Recreation board members could hear by next week whether they can use recreation tax proceeds to help establish a YMCA branch. Assistant District Attorney Ronnie McMillin said he will soon tell the board of Recreation District No. 1 in writing whether proceeds of a recreation tax can be used to operate facilities that were not owned by the district when the tax was passed.

That’s important because in order to establish a Y branch in Ferriday, the YMCA of Central Louisiana needs to make sure $150,000 will be available over the branch’s first three years to run its programs.

Some of that money could come from the $73,000 a year the board gets from the tax. But YMCA programs would most likely be held in a former school the Ferriday hopes to lease from the Concordia School Board or an old gym building it has already leased – not in Recreation Board facilities.

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McMillin said he will forward a written opinion to the board by Wednesday.

A proposition voters passed in 1998 said proceeds would be used for &uot;acquiring, maintaining and operating recreational facilities in and for the district, including lands, buildings and equipment.&uot;

But board member Jerry Cook said that when voters passed the tax proposition, it was believed that proceeds would be used to operate facilities the district already owned.

McMillin said that given the all-encompassing language of the tax proposition, there would seem to be no problem with using tax proceeds for the operation of any recreational facility within the district.

The area covered by Recreation District No. 1 includes the towns of Ferriday, Clayton and Ridgecrest and the communities of Wildsville, Sycamore and Lake St. John.

The old Florida Street Gym building is located in Ferriday, while the former Ferriday Kindergarten Center building lies near Louisiana 15 just outside Ferriday.

The recreation board has already delayed approval of a cooperative recreation agreement between Ferriday, the YMCA and the rec board a few times in the last several weeks in order to clarify such legal questions.

&uot;I don’t want anybody to think we’re not for the children,&uot; said board member James Skipper. &uot;We just want to make sure everything is done legally.&uot;

As far as the district attorney’s opinion is concerned, &uot;I want it in writing,&uot; added Clayton Mayor Wilbert Washington, who also serves on the board.