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Cianfarini Hammers Summer Rec, Questions Program's Real Cost

Committeeman Sam Cianfarini raised questions about the accounting behind the township's summer rec program, and whether it's costing taxpayers money.

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.

Ken June 11, 2012 at 01:05 PM
As Mr. Ley stated at the 250.00 thee program is self sustaining. And as you said the people in this town are being hit hard on all fronts, so why would we not help them out. If you do a little investigating you'll see that the 6 week program at 260.00 total include before or after latch key, is 1/5 the expense of day care for the same amount of time. It also keeps the kids in town with the kids in town while giving them a educational structure with day trips they would not get otherwise, since parents have to work all summer and daycare centers don't have them.
WDNeedsHelp June 12, 2012 at 03:24 PM
see www.wdtruth.org and look at the golf course contract, it's a joke. the WD residents got royally screwed and no one said a word about it....
WDNeedsHelp June 12, 2012 at 03:50 PM
TJ, the pump has been on the radar for some time now, meaning the previous administration knew about its potential failure and did nothing to prepare for it. I recall the cost to replace it could run from .5 to 1 million dollars as mentioned in a previous township meeting. There is no way to accurately calculate the cost of the rec program, but I believe Cianfarini wants is to be a net zero to the taxpayers. Only fair since only certain residents take advantage of it and they should bear most of the cost. Now if we could only get that to happen at RiverWinds we will be in great shape. Hate knowing 400 to 600 of my taxes goes to funding and running that facility and I cannot walk through the front door and use it unless I fork out another $500 to join.....makes me very mad.
WDNeedsHelp June 12, 2012 at 03:54 PM
Zero cost to the taxpayer is what he said... Only fair in my opinion and I use the program. I do not use RiverWinds yet I am paying for it through my taxes and that DOES need to be addressed by the Committee.
T.J. Patch June 12, 2012 at 06:15 PM
WDNeedsHelp, I appreciate you taking the time to respond, however, based on previous costs and the projected cost of running the program this year, the cost factor can actually be calculated and then the registration fees assessed accordingly. It's done all the time. Will it be 100% accurate? Of course not. But, when projecting the costs, a buffer is always added allowing for cost overruns or shortfalls in registration. Mr. Ley has run this program for the past few years so he should have a fairly strong grasp on the cost and projections. I do agree that a zero sum cost to the taxpayers would be optimal. It appears from the article and from ken's response that this will not cost us anything. My concern is folks like Mr. Bondar who post a comment that obfuscates the issue at hand with a "ooh look shiny object" comment. His comment, and Mr. Cianfrini's outrage, make it seem as if the township is ignoring the pump in order to have this summer rec program (yes, you would call a plumber, perhaps Joe the Plumber even, and not send your kid to camp). That does not appear to be the case. A prevailing and ongoing problem on this and other local boards is the constant arguing and distraction from the issue. We clearly have an issue with this pump. Let's focus on how to fix that issue and stop confusing it with a summer rec program that is not diverting any funds from the pump. That's how we solve problems, not with blatant falsehoods and misdirection.

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