Rec & borough agree on matching funds

By on April 15, 2015

“We did not approach the borough and ask for $100,000.”

That was a comment made by Ephrata Recreation Center Executive Director Jim Summers at Monday night’s Ephrata Borough Council meeting in advance of a vote to approve up to that much in matching funds for capital improvements at the Rec Center.

During citizen comments, local resident Dennis Rowe questioned both council members and Rec Center officials who were there regarding the matter, including how much cash the Rec Center has on hand and whether or not repairs to the roof for which council had appropriated funds previously had ever been done.

“It feels like the old movie, ‘The Money Pit,’” said Rowe. “If the Rec Center cannot stand on its own, perhaps it’s time to sell it.”

Summers admitted the roof had not been repaired or replaced earlier and that he did not know exact figures of how much cash the Rec Center had on hand.

“The idea of the $100,000 matching funds did not come from the Rec Center but the borough made the offer to us under certain conditions,” added Summers. “We did not initiate that.”Eph rec

Council president Dale Hertzog added some clarity to the issue, saying that especially after the pool HVAC system became a new situation requiring attention, the borough felt that while the Rec Center was getting on their feet, the offer might be a way to help them out while also incentivizing their effort to go out and raise funds.

“Keep in mind this is only funds matching up to $100,000 for funds actually collected and placed in a special account and verified to be on hand,” clarified Hertzog.

In his comments, Rowe questioned why the tax payers should be “on the hook” for the Rec Center. Hertzog pointed out that it’s not the tax payers but the rate payers on the hook because the funds that would be used would come from the electric reserve fund generated as a component of the borough’s electrical business.

Borough Manager Bob Thompson reminded Rowe and the other nearly 30 people in house for the meeting that the borough’s capital reserve fund is not funded by taxes.

“We are not at all close to where we would be concerned or in trouble,” added Thompson. “Also keep in mind that the borough owns the Rec Center by deed. When we are investing in the Rec Center’s capital we are improving our building. When we consider the possibility of a failure, we would inherit the debt but we also inherit the building which can be used in the community and also mitigates any liability and facilitates the Rec Board toward success. It is a win /win for the Rec Board and the borough and ultimately the community.”

In the end, a roll call vote on the matter yielded a unanimous vote to approve the measure.

In other news, Mayor Ralph Mowen announced that for the third year in a row, the borough had been named a Tree City USA by the National Arbor Day Foundation. Mowen made his announcement as part of his annual Arbor Day proclamation in which he also recognized Shade Tree Commission Chairman George DiIlio who was present for the meeting.

DiIlio invited the public to join the borough’s annual Arbor Day celebration at the Ephrata Public Library on Friday, April 24 beginning at 9 a.m. It is suggested participants bring spade shovels along as they will again be planting a number of new trees along a walking path. According to DiIlio, nearly a dozen Ephrata residents have completed the eight-hour course required to become a certified tree-tender. Most recently, council member Anthony Kilkuskie has become certified.

Other signs that spring has arrived in the borough include the unanimous vote by council to award the engineering and design proposal to extend the Major Dick Winters Trail from Keystone Villa to West Pine Street to Hanover Engineering Associates Inc. of Ephrata, for an amount not to exceed $23,000. Similarly, council awarded a contract for $33,504.90 to B.R. Kreider and Sons, Inc of Manheim, to resurface the Grater Park Walking Trail.

Mayor Mowen noted that the decorative planters which adorn the downtown business district have been delivered to Espenshades Greenhouses for arranging. Downtown Ephrata Incorporated (DEI) is handling these planters again this year. According to Mowen, two planters remain un-sponsored. He asked that anyone, including perhaps a group of council members, contact him directly with the necessary $250 by the end of the month.

And finally, council approved a partnership between the Rec Center and St. Boniface Craft Brewing Company to sell beer as a fund raising effort as part of the July 4 Community Picnic. Beer sales will be carefully monitored and patrons closely contained within a specified area of the picnic grounds.

For additional information on Ephrata Borough, visit ephrataboro.org.

Gary P. Klinger welcomes your comments via email at klingerglobal@gmail.com or via twitter at www.twitter.com/gpklinger.

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