MEXICO — The proposed recreation center was among the items discussed during a public hearing at Tuesday’s selectmen meeting at the Town Hall.

Selectmen recommended $114,973 for the 2014 Recreation Department budget, while the Budget Committee recommended $104,529. According to a spreadsheet detailing the proposed 2013-14 budget, the Budget Committee recommended $50,000 for the recreation building, while the selectmen recommended $60,444.

Town Manager John Madigan told residents that the anticipated revenue from the Recreation Department is $45,000, which would reduce the amount of money to be raised by property taxes from $114,973 to $69,842.

Resident Albert Aniel, who also serves on the Budget Committee, said, “I just want to clarify. It’s basically going to cost us $115,000 if we approve the recommended budget, and we only anticipate getting $45,000. You’re saying we’re still looking at a cost of $65,000 or $70,000 for the recreation center?”

Madigan agreed.

“That’s kind of a lot of money, don’t you think? Just to heat that place must be ferocious,” a resident said.

Another resident asked for Madigan to break down the recreation building budget line by line.

The town manager said $10,034 goes to custodial services, $4,410 goes to building insurance, $26,000 to fuel for the building, and $6,000 to electricity, among other items.

Later in the meeting, Madigan pointed out that the sports programs for the Recreation Department were “bringing in a lot more money than anticipated.”

“The soccer program raised $5,564, and the set-up only cost $1,800,” he said. “That’s a $3,700 net gain. The basketball program raised $11,298 and only cost $1,767 to start up, which means it brought in $9,500 in its very first year.”

Madigan also said Recreation Center Director Wayne Sevigny was able to raise $5,100 by renting banners and advertising space to local businesses.

“Next year, I expect it will do better,” Madigan said. “If these programs grow the way they’ve already shown promise, someday, they might be paying the whole cost of it.”

Aniel replied, “The bottom line is that it’s still going to cost us $65,000 to $70,000. I wonder how the selectmen feel when in Mexico, 40 percent of the voters are retirees having trouble making ends meet, and you’re asking these people to foot the bill for a recreation center that used to be run by volunteers and no longer is.”

Selectman George Byam told Aniel, “There are many, many, many volunteers down there that people don’t even realize. There are umpires and four or five coaches per team. There’s people volunteering their equipment down at the fields.”

Selectman Byron Ouellette told those in attendance, “Over the last couple of years, we’ve had new life come into this recreation center. With the new director, the amount of money being generated from these programs is saving the town money, if a recreation center is what they want.

“Right now, it looks like the department will continue to grow, but it’s a big cost to the town at a time when the town is having difficulty reigning in their taxes,” Ouellette continued. “It’s up to the townspeople whether they want to pay that kind of money. Each individual taxpayer has to make the decision.”

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