0

Turner Lake may close on Saturdays

COVINGTON -- The Newton County Recreation Commission will decide later this month whether to close Turner Lake Complex on Saturdays and increase fees for sports programs and use of its facilities.

The Recreation Commission's Finance Committee made those recommendations at a meeting earlier this week in light of an expected 5 percent budget cut for fiscal year 2011 and the cost of maintaining additional facilities, including Denny Dobbs Park and the old Cousins Gym. The Recreation Commission is also expected to take over maintenance of the park planned for the Fairview Estates neighborhood at some point.

Recreation Commission Director Tommy Hailey had told county commissioners his department could maintain the additional facilities if there were no additional funding cuts in fiscal year 2011. The Recreation Commission budget was slashed by more than $129,000 this year.

The current budget proposal for fiscal year 2011 under consideration by commissioners would reduce funding by another 5 percent. The budget would be trimmed nearly $95,000, from $1,897,408 to $1,802,538.

"We asked for no increases or decreases (to the budget). When that didn't happen, we had to take some measures to cut back on services," Hailey said.

The additional cost of maintaining the new facilities leaves the Recreation Commission with a shortfall totaling $154,000, according to Hailey. To make up the shortfall, the finance committee recommended that Turner Lake Complex be closed on Saturdays to save approximately $30,000 per year. The facility would still be available to rent.

They have also recommended the position of recreation program manager -- which carried a salary of $44,364, including benefits -- be eliminated. That position has been vacant since last August.

Finally, fees to participate in sports and rent facilities would also be increased. Proposed fees are as follows:

* Baseball -- Fees would increase from $125 to $150 and to $130 for each additional child;

* Girls softball -- Fees would increase from $125 to $135; each additional child would be $125;

* Wee League -- Fees would increase from $65 to $75;

* Fall baseball -- Fees would increase from $75 to $85;

* Football -- A fee increase from $125 to $150 and a $140 charge for additional children would go into effect next year, as registration is currently under way;

* Cheerleading -- A fee increase from $65 to $75 and a $65 charge for additional children would go into effect next year, as registration is currently under way;

* Basketball -- Fees would increase from $85 to $110 with a $100 charge for additional children;

* Basketball training league -- Fees would increase from $65 to $75 and $65 for additional children;

* Daily gym rates would increase from $1 to $2 for children ages 8 to 17; from $2 to $3 for adults ages 18 to 54; and from $1 to $2 for seniors 55 and older. A $20 annual pass available at Newton Senior Services would still be honored.

* Gym rental fees at Turner Lake and Conyers Street Gym would increase from $35 to $50 for the first hour; and $40 for each additional hour. Non-residents would pay $75 for the first hour and $65 for each additional hour.

* Rental of the pavilion at Turner Lake Complex would increase from $150 per day to $175. The same fee would apply to the pavilion at Denny Dobbs Park once it opens.

"It's nothing I want to do or anybody wants to do. It's to keep from laying people off, and the way the system's set up, if we lay somebody off, we've still got to pay unemployment," Hailey said. "We could lay three off to get the $154,000, but with unemployment (costs) that three could turn into six."

The Recreation Commission will meet at 6 p.m. June 28 to discuss the proposal.