Rec Board delays vote on funding for YMCA branch

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 21, 2000

FERRIDAY, La. – The Recreation District No. 1 Board did not vote Thursday on whether to help fund efforts to establish a YMCA branch in Ferriday.

Most members did not elaborate on the concerns they have regarding the proposed project and instead said they would meet with Rodney Martin, chief executive officer of the YMCA of Central Louisiana, to discuss them at a later date.

Martin gave a short presentation on the Y at Thursday’s meeting, but member James Skipper said he was concerned because the board had not met with Martin before.

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Skipper noted the board has voted to move forward with support of the Y project if possible. But he believes the board does not have enough input into the direction of, and has not gotten enough firsthand information on, the project. &uot;We want to know what’s going on and want all of Ferriday to be represented on the (Y) steering committee,&uot;&160;Skipper said. If the board is to decide on whether to fund the project, he added, &uot;we need to know how the money’s going to be allocated.&uot;

In order to establish a branch, the YMCA needs to make sure $150,000 will be available to run it for the first three years. The board has been asked to put up $75,000 from a recreation tax voters passed in 1998. A recent assistant district attorney’s opinion stated that such an allocation of tax money is legal.

But the Rev. Gary Howington, who is heading an effort to raise funds for the project and has formed an initial steering committee, said a group does not have to be represented on the committee just because it provides funds.

&uot;It doesn’t mean an organization has to be in on all the decisions,&uot;&160;Howington said after the meeting. Also, Martin said that even if the &uot;rec board&uot;&160;does provide up-front funding, they could still be asked for more funding at a later date – and Skipper took issue with that.

&uot;We were told we were only being asked for $25,000&uot; a year for three years, Skipper said. &uot;Now we’re told that if funding is needed for another (program), you may ask us to put forth more money.&uot;

&uot;But isn’t that the nature of this organization?&uot;, Howington asked.

&uot;If I&160;didn’t continue to ask for funding, we would be in trouble,&uot;&160;Martin said, referring to soliciting funds for the YMCA of Central Louisiana.

If it is formed, the Ferriday Y would be a branch of the YMCA of Central Louisiana.

No date was set for board members to meet with Martin, but Martin said such a meeting could not take place before the end of the year.

The board has already delayed approval of a cooperative recreation agreement with Ferriday and the Y a few times in recent months in order to clarify legal questions.

&uot;We know what a well-established and valuable organization the YMCA is. We just had legal concerns,&uot; said board Chairperson Delores Thomas.