West Deptford’s recreation department came under fire again Thursday night, as Committeeman Sam Cianfarini first proposed a further hike in summer rec fees while questioning whether the township is losing money on the annual effort, before ultimately advancing the original amended fee ordinance setting this year’s rate.
Cianfarini initially put forth the idea to establish the summer rec fee at $250——then immediately tacked on the possibility of hiking it even further, up to $300 for anyone registering after June 15.
But that was met with resistance, as Committeewoman Denice DiCarlo noted the summer rec guides had already been sent out with the fee set at $250, and no hint of a possible late registration fee.
“I think it’s a little unfair,” she said. “We’ve already noticed the whole town.”
Cianfarini acknowleged that point, then raised the concern the rec program had been sent out before the fee, which was raised $50 from last year, was finalized by the township committee.
“We’ve got the cart before the horse,” Cianfarini said.
Cianfarini then attacked the accounting by Ley on the summer programs’ cost, claiming he hadn’t seen any of the details of the income and expenses before getting a memo on them Wednesday—though Ley and Kilpatrick had detailed the cost and proposed rate hike back on March 21, in a public session of the rec advisory committee.
“I don’t know that a thorough and accurate accounting has been done,” Cianfarini said. “We’re not sure at this point in time it covers the cost of this program.”
When DiCarlo pointed out she’d put together an analysis of the entire recreation budget—an analysis she’d handed out when the township committee debated the summer concert series—Cianfarini dismissed it, claiming there were multiple errors in judgment in how that was put together.
And while Ley and Kilpatrick’s presentation cited the $250 fee bringing the program’s income above its costs, which run about $70,000, Cianfarini claimed that failed to take into account things like insurance bills and management salaries—costs that exist even without the summer rec program.
Cianfarini also raised the issue of not adding more money to the township’s debt and trotted out the same argument he and Mayor Ray Chintall made during , pointing out the township needs to consider replacing fire apparatus and repairing an aging sewer pump system.
“We have to prioritize,” he said.
Cianfarini even went so far as to broach the idea of privatizing the entire program, though he didn't go into specifics on that notion.
But when solicitor Anthony Ogozalek pointed out the old fee ordinance, which lists the summer rec program as a $200 cost, still technically holds, Cianfarini softened his stance, moving to pass the original version of the amended fee ordinance, which passed unanimously. He did so while noting it may be amended further after a full analysis of the summer program’s costs is done, however.
Cianfarini's efforts were met with some scorn during the public session, as Bill Gigliotti, who was one of several candidates put forth to replace former Mayor Anna Docimo on the township committee, took Cianfarini to task for going after the summer rec program.
“I was appalled,” he said, noting the committee had just finished recognizing outstanding athletes from the middle and high schools. “That’s your future.”
Eighty-two kids have signed up for the rec program in the first week of enrollment, Ley said, with the program already bringing in over $20,000.