Town officials debate donation to YMCA

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 14, 2001

FERRIDAY, La. – Should the Town of Ferriday spend $75,000 on such needs as public works improvements and public safety — or invest the money in establishing a YMCA in Ferriday for the area’s children?

That was an issue hotly debated by town officials during most of a one-and-a-half-hour Town Council meeting Tuesday night.

A committee working to raise $150,000 to establish a YMCA is asking the town for $25,000 a year for three years. Recreation District No. 1 has already pledged the same amount, fundraisers are being held and donations are being solicited. More than 400 signatures on petitions show citizens support the YMCA, said Alex Promise.

&uot;We have the greatest opportunity to help the children that we have ever had,&uot; said Promise, the town’s administrative assistant and a Y steering committee member. He also noted that unless the money is raised soon, Ferriday could miss its chance to get a director for the Y.

But some council members pointed out that the town is already so strapped for cash that it will have to vote next month to borrow $240,000 to pay off a defaulted loan note on its water plant. Mayor Pro Tem Billy Rucker told the story of a man who recently had to clean backed-up sewage from his house. Public works and public safety should be the council’s first priorities, &uot;and everything else is a spillover,&uot;&160;he said. &uot;I don’t feel like we have the money.&uot;

&uot;Nothing you just said is more important than our children,&uot; Promise said.

Mayor Glen McGlothin, who was out of town Tuesday, has requested an attorney general’s opinion on whether the town can allocate such funds. The town has not yet received that opinion, said Town Attorney Anna Brakenridge.

Councilman Sammy Davis Jr. did receive a copy of an opinion issued in 1995 to the City of Monroe by the Attorney General’s Office stating that that city could allocate money to the Tri-District Boys’ Club to renovate a parking lot.

A representative of the Attorney General’s Office recently told Davis and Promise that the opinion that will be issued to Ferriday will be the same as that issued to Monroe, Promise said.

Councilwoman Dorothy Johnson said she would prefer to wait on an Attorney General’s opinion to the Town of Ferriday before voting on allocating the money to the Y effort.