LIVERMORE FALLS — For the first time in 25 years, the town was asked to enter into a contract with RSU 73 to hold the six-week Livermore Falls summer recreation program at the former Livermore Falls High School.

The proposed contract calls for a fee of $3,000 to use the building, but it is negotiable, RSU 73 Superintendent Robert Wall said Thursday.

The initial contract proposed limiting use of the gym to one day a week but was changed after Town Manager Kristal Flagg met with Wall on Friday. A new agreement will be drawn up and the program would have use of that gym or another gym every day, Flagg said. The two are still negotiating.

The initial contract came under fire at a Livermore Falls selectmen’s meeting April 15.

For 25 years, there has been no charge to use the property, summer recreation Director Sally Boivin told selectmen April 15.

Boivin said 263 children participated in the program last year. Among them were 118 from Livermore Falls, 114 from Jay, and 24 from Livermore.

Families of children who participate pay a fee to attend. Out-of-town children, except Jay’s, pay a higher fee. Jay contributes $12,000 a year to participate in the program.

Jay selectmen eliminated an additional $3,000 Livermore Falls requested for 2014-15 and flat-funded it at $12,000, Flagg said.

It costs about $26,000 to $27,000 a year to operate the program and it is currently “in the hole,” she said.

About $8,000 to $9,000 in registration fees are collected in June but roll over to the general fund on June 30. A new budget doesn’t go into effect until July 1.

Livermore Falls also picks up the cost of payroll-related insurances for the program’s employees and liability insurance to hold the program.

Jay selectmen cut $600,000 from the proposed town budget and the $3,000 was one of those cuts, Jay Town Manager Shiloh LaFreniere previously said.

The summer recreation program keeps children engaged, out of trouble and off the street, Boivin told selectmen. It employs about 27 counselors from the area and provides children with two free meals a day, she said.

Wall said the RSU 73 food service program provides the $14,887 meal service and gets reimbursed by the federal government.

Initially, it was unknown how the program would operate if gym access was limited.

“We don’t have any intention of not having the program (at the high school),” Wall said. “We don’t have any intention of not supporting the program to be successful. We are sorry this misunderstanding has reached this level. Eileen (Miazga, adult education director) has done a wonderful job working on some options to keep (the building) a viable option in the community.”

It is a very important part of the community of Jay, Livermore and Livermore Falls, he said. The three towns formed RSU 73 in 2011.

“We see it as a valuable resource that would not be replaced,” he said. “It would certainly be easier to close the building.”

The district also allows the program to use buses. The program paid $1,118.70 for nine trips last year and a 21st Century Grant paid for the remainder of the $3,035.68 cost, Wall said.

Residents of Livermore Falls and Livermore residents, which formerly made up RSU 36 and owned the high school, voted in 2012 to close the building by June 30, 2013. If it wasn’t closed, taxpayers in those towns faced paying an additional $650,000 to keep it open, plus each town’s share of the RSU 73 budget.

Livermore Falls selectmen declined to take the high school property back and left responsibility for it with the school district. The academic wing was sealed off in 2013 and high school students went to Jay. Other sections of the building and grounds are used.

RSU 73 residents voted April 8 to keep the building open at a cost of $132,000 in 2014-15 with each town responsible to pay $44,000.

Livermore Falls selectmen agreed April 15 to include money for the recreation program in the proposed budget that will go before voters June 10. If there is a fee to use the building, selectmen and Flagg said they would raise the fees for children to participate.

Miazga is required to make the high school self-sustainable and plans to do so in part by charging for the use of it.

Area Youth Services, the Maine Athletic Club and the Amateur Athletic Union also want to use the gym, Miazga said Thursday.

“The fact is we are trying to be responsible stewards of the building and we have to compromise,” she said.

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