Vance County committee considers city's proposal

Jun. 06, 2014 @ 07:16 PM

A county committee swayed back in favor of managing the Henderson-Vance Recreation and Parks Department.

It will recommend holding about $155,000 of the county’s contingency fund to take over the department no earlier than Oct. 1.

A committee of the Vance County Board of County Commissioners agreed during its meeting Thursday to continue pursing Henderson City Council’s proposed power swap that would see Vance County assume 55 percent of the department’s budget for fiscal year 2014-2015 and 60 percent the following year. The county assumed 45 percent for the fiscal year ending June 30.

The committee found assuming primary control of the department would cost about $155,000 more for a 10-month period and about $200,000 for 12 months to cover the recreation center, aquatics and employee benefits costs.

While committee members said they thought the increase was feasible, they debated the amount of the city’s proposed share into next year.

Commissioner Dan Brummitt said the committee needed to negotiate a cap, considering there are more children and teenagers in the city in a smaller area.

The city requested a ceiling of about $490,000 — what the county paid in the current fiscal year. At the current rate of 55 percent, the city contributed about $450,000 this year.

According to 2010 census data distributed during the meeting, Henderson has a higher density per square mile of residents using the department’s programs than does the county, and a larger number of participants in the youth service programs are within the city.

“Looking at these numbers, even though the greater number is in the county, a higher density should show the city that they have to keep their skin in the game,” commissioner Gordon Wilder said.

Committee members also wanted to make sure they had the money for improvements.

The committee calculated adding maintenance and ball field supplies increased the county budget by $50,000 for a full 12 months. Since the city incorporated its 55 percent share in its budget for the next fiscal year, the committee decided to aim for an October takeover to allow time to negotiate with Henderson. The full board of commissioners would need to vote to approve this first, however.

Also during the meeting, the committee brainstormed ways to get more children involved in the recreation center.

The center’s comprehensive plan showed decreases across the board for youth athletic participation with few exceptions.

Brummitt said the county needed to work with other counties to create mega-tournaments that draw crowds instead of producing conflicting schedules for traveling teams during the summer.

Commissioner Terry Garrison said the committee should consider adding transportation and putting Vance County high school students to work for the summer as chaperones.

“We have a whole lot of kids that don’t have anything to do during the summer,” he said. “This would be a perfect opportunity to put them to work.”

Contact the writer at dhairston@hendersondispatch.com.