Recreation budget challenges Greene voters

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GREENE — The only debate at the annual town meeting Saturday wasn’t about taxes or easements, but rather a disagreement of recommendations between the Board of Selectmen and Budget Committee on money raised and/or appropriated for the Youth Athletics Expense Account and Parks and Recreation for 2010.

In the meeting that Selectman Anthony R. Reny described as “uneventful,” most articles carried unanimously. Many of the 60 articles voted had budgets that were approved by both the Board of Selectmen and Budget Committee and easily gained approval from the 50-plus townspeople.

However, selectmen recommended $8,495 for the 2010 youth athletics budget, while the Budget Committee recommended $5,000, leading to a lengthy discussion from attendees and concluding with the approval of the selectmen’s recommendation. In 2009, a budget of $6,787 was approved and expended.

Glenn Chateauvert, president of the Greene Youth Athletic Association, argued in favor of the selectmen’s recommendation, citing the importance of the program in children’s lives.

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“We’ve cut it right down to bare bones,” Chateauvert said. “Next to education and family, sports are a very important part of these kids’ lives. It’s what’s going to keep them out of trouble.”

Chateauvert explained that the G.Y.A.A. is on its way to becoming self-sufficient, using the 2009-approved snack shack to help offset costs, but that it still needs funds to help improve the field conditions, complete needed upkeep, provide scholarships for needy families and build a facility to safely house the program’s sporting equipment. With these improvements, the town can draw in tournaments that will produce revenue for the town, Chateauvert said.

By 22-18, voters approved the selectmen’s recommendation of $13,200 to be raised and/or appropriated to Parks and Recreation. The same amount was approved for 2009, but only $11,855 was expended. The Budget Committee recommended a total of $5,000.

Bruce Tufts, chairman of the Parks and Recreation Department and a member of the Budget Committee, defended the lower recommendations, saying that they had the “big picture” in mind.

“It makes us look like the bad guy, but it’s not against the kids,” he said. “There are just very few places where money can actually be cut.” He said the committee’s fear was that people were not fully aware of what they were getting themselves into, with the responsibility of maintaining the grounds, building a place to house equipment and the protection required to prevent vandalism and damage.

Other items on the agenda easily carried, including the administrative wages expense account of $217,602, which increased by $3,262 from the 2009 approved budget; the employee expense/benefit account of $122,005, increased by $8,655 from 2009; and the administrative expense account of $166,550, which decreased by $3,900 from last year.

The emergency management expense account of $76,500, down from the $80,200 approved in 2009 with $55,588 of that expended, was approved with the agreement that any surplus at year’s end goes to pay for required upgrades the Fire Department needs to make in order to be in compliance with new regulations.

Carol Springer was appointed as a member to the Ella Augusta Thompson Committee and Bethany Lions to the Julia Adams Morse Library Committee. The Budget Committee will remain the same for the ensuing year.

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