Fees Could Rise for WD Summer Rec Programs
Township committee on Thursday proposed an increase in the fees for summer recreation and related programs.
Parents in West Deptford may find themselves forking over a bit more dough for this year’s summer recreation programs, following a lengthy discussion by township committee Thursday night. The committee voted on first reading to not only to increase the summer rec fee, but also the fee for sports camps, the latch key program and day trips in order to ensure profit for the township.
The discussion on the summer rec program began during the first reading of an ordinance to establish fees for the township. Committeeman Samuel Cianfarini raised concerns that the newly proposed summer rec fee was still not enough to ensure that the township would profit from the program.
Recreation Director Greg Ley explained that with the summer rec fee increasing from $250 to $300 for the six week program, the township could expect to see close to a $8,900 profit with the enrollment of approximately 250 kids–basing their estimate on the 245 who enrolled the previous summer.
However, concerned with the possibility that a higher fee may lessen the enrollment for summer rec this year, Cianfarini proposed sign-ups taking place two or three weeks prior to the beginning of the six week program–ensuring the program could be cancelled if not enough children enrolled.
“As a mom I would say, I can’t be left without child care come June,” said Committeewoman Denice DiCarlo, who explained the rec program was too important to be considered tentative.
'Not simply dollars and cents'
Deputy Mayor Sean Kilpatrick also spoke on behalf of the program, saying that cancellation of the summer rec program may lead to more kids wandering about and getting into trouble during the summer months.
“It’s not simply dollars and cents here,” said Kilpatrick.
Cianfarini continued to expand on his concerns for the program, saying later in the meeting that an anlysis in 2011 projected the program to make a profit in 2012, when instead, there was a $15,000 loss. He also explained that the township had also lost similar amounts of money in the two years prior to 2012. He added that with all of the township’s unique and beautiful assets, there must be a payback for the taxpayers.
Comparing the summer rec program to other daycare programs in the area, Cianfarini also explained that the township’s summer rec program is almost three times cheaper.
Not having to adhere to the same standards of a daycare, the summer rec program does not have a 5:1 ratio, but is composed of a staff of mostly West Deptford High School graduates, paid at minimum wage. Ley explained that those graduates are standouts, young adults that the younger children look up to.
“They’re the pick of the litter,” said Ley of the summer rec staff.
Committeewoman Donna Szymborski also spoke to the importance of summer rec and its attractiveness to outsiders.
“We want to promote and sell West Deptford,” said Szymborski. “This is a positive program.”
Following an inquiry from the township committee, township administrator Eric Campo also explained that the township did not suffer any drop in enrollment the last time it raised fees from $200 to $250, four years ago.
Feeling that Ley’s projections for an almost $9,000 increase in revenue seemed positive, Mayor Raymond Chintall also inquired on raising fees for enrollment in just day trips, along with upping the fees for the latch key program and sports camps.
After Ley recommended to the committee an increase of $2 for these programs across the board, the committee voted unanimously to amend the first reading of the ordinance to include a new fee of $12 for sports camps, $18 for day trips and $12 for latch key in addition to the $50 increase for summer rec.
Yet, some residents still seemed concerned, such as Joseph Rando, who challenged Kilpatrick’s statement regarding an increase of children getting into trouble during the summer months, saying that it was not the responsibility of the government to raise the children.
“If the program doesn’t pay for itself, then scrap it,” said Rando during public comment.
However, resident David Sileo begged to differ during public comment stating that the township needed the summer rec program and that the committee should “do everything in their power to keep this program and keep it in the black”.
A public hearing before the committee's vote on the proposed increases is scheduled for April 4.
*Editor's note: This article was modified from its original to clarify the financial history of the summer rec program.