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Op-Ed: Time To Understand Rec Department Spending


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The Verona Town Council has been engaged in a series of workshops about the 2012 budget. Al DeOld, a Verona resident for four decades and a former Verona High School teacher, has been to every one of them and has these thoughts on the Recreation Department:

In January the Verona Town Council will be presented with the budget for the year 2012. Last year (2011) there were many discussions regarding specific portions of the budget. One area – the Recreation Department – caused many questions to be asked regarding the amounts of money spent on recreation activities. Some amounts did not appear to make sense. I asked to meet with Mr. Martin and Mr. Cunningham to get a better understanding of this area of the budget.

The Recreation Department title is a bit misleading as the department includes not only Recreation but also Health, Vital Statistics, Senior Services, Transportation, Verona Pool Revenues, Children’s Fund, Verona Community Center and the Ropes Course.

If you look at just the recreation portion there are three employees (Director, Account Manager/Bookkeeper and Assistant). Their salaries total $191,000. They oversee some 50-plus programs that operate at various times during the year. The Recreation Department is a service provided to the Verona residents and is funded by tax dollars. Program expenses amounted to $509,000.

However, all of the 50-plus programs have fees paid by those who enroll in the programs. Income from fees totaled $241,000 and is used to cover the direct cost of each particular program. That is, the cost of the instructor and needed supplies. The fees collected are turned back to the general fund of the town that pays these direct costs.

All of the programs use the Community Center Facilities including rooms and fields as well as equipment supplied by the Recreation Department. These expenses are considered indirect costs, as are the three administrative salaries and are not reflected in the fees for the programs. These are taxpayer-funded.

In addition to the recreation department programs, the administrator oversees the use of the Verona Community Center fields and gym usage. The township provides a list of fees for the use of the fields, gym, and community center rooms. The fees are less for Verona township residents and more for non-residents. These fees are reviewed and adjusted approximately every two years. Field rental last year generated $6,100 and rental of rooms in the Community Center generated another $42,000.

As a result of the discussions with Mr. Martin, it has been decided to change the title for Mr. Cunningham. From this point on he will be known as the Director Of Community Services.

Key Recreation Department Budget Numbers
Recreation Income $241,000
Recreation Expenses $700,000

Health Expenses $198,000
(Includes $64,000 for outside contract with Montclair for inspections and animal control; $56,000 operating expenses; $78,000 salaries)

Senior Program Expenses $20,000

Transportation Expenses $20,000
(Includes 2 buses, car for seniors and medical)

Community Pool Expenses $600,000
(Expenses covered by member fees and non-member/guest fees)

Community Center Income $48,100

The Town Council will hold a workshop tonight, Monday, March 12, on the capital budget and the engineering/public works budget. The budget will be formally introduced next Monday, March 19. Town Council meetings begin at 7 p.m. in the Council room on the second floor of the municipal building. They are open to the public.

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  1. Great write-up, though I’m confused by this being labeled an Op-Ed. I find no opinion here, just solid reporting, journalism, and facts.

    I see nothing wrong with the numbers presented here. They appear to be in line with the appropriate amount spent in other towns on similar services.


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