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Starpoint and Town of Pendleton to decide recreation program's future

BY: Rikki Cason | November 11, 2012

One thousand five hundred dollars is the number the Starpoint Central School District is looking to be paid by the Town of Pendleton to use their facilities for their six-week summer recreation program.

A discussion was held Monday between board of education members and Town of Pendleton Supervisor James Riester and Councilman Ed Harman.

The board must approve the 2013 contract by the end of the year, which would allow the town to continue to run their programs in the district.

The same topic sparked much debate last winter, with the board being divided on whether not to charge to use the facility or not.

Superintendent C. Douglas Whelan told the town board representatives they wanted to work together because no one wanted to have the program close.

“It’s a great program,” said Whelan. “We want to work with the town board.”

Because the district charges the YMCA $900 to use the facility, and in the past have charged groups like the Lockport High School drama department, who performed their musical at Starpoint two years ago, Whelan said the board feels it is fair to charge Pendleton.

He said because they use the building more than the normal person or group does, it is bringing additional costs to the district.

Reister’s response, “If everyone else pays, we’ll pay.”

He said he would take the $1,500 figure back to the town board, but he felt they would not agree to it unless every other organization that uses the school is also charged. Though he does not want to see others being charged, it is the only fair option.

According to Harman, out of the 15 organizations that use the school, only the YMCA pays for the facility and they are charged $900. He asked how the board decided who pays and who doesn’t.

Over the six-week program, the children attend a field trip once a week and the program also doesn’t run on July 4. Harman said they are there for six hours a day and the YMCA is there 11 hours a day.

Riester reminded the district they have a shared service agreement, where Starpoint is welcome to use equipment and other items they need.

“We’ve taken care of you in the past,” said Riester. “It’s a tough time for us.”

He said during the 2013 budget process, they will have to layoff of two town employees, one in the highway department and one in water and sewer. Because of this, he cannot justify paying $1,500.

With the state requiring even more restrictions on the program, Riester said it is becoming very difficult to maintain.

This year’s program costs $33,000 to run. There was $3,450 collected from 23 non-town resident children, plus $10 for each of the 155 Pendleton children who attended. The town paid $186 for each of the 155 students to attend the six-week program.

Starpoint has agreed to take a look at all building usage and create a standard dollar amount. They told the town the $1,500 is unlikely to decrease but they will look into charging other organizations.

Resident Sara Siracuse asked why the board is again waiting until the last minute to discuss this contract. Last year’s decision wasn’t made until January.

“It’s a race to the end, again,” she said.

Siracuse said as a Pendleton tax payer, she doesn’t feel it is fair to charge Pendleton and not other organizations.

“If you are going to charge Pendleton, charge everyone else,” said Siracuse.

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