By Patrick McCallister
For Hometown News
HOLLY HILL -- The marriage between the city and Volusia/Flagler Family YMCA is saved. At least for another year. Unless one or the other uses a 90-day separation clause. Again.
At its last regular meeting, Tuesday, Jan. 7, the City Commission inked a $45,000 deal with the YMCA to continue providing recreation services at the Holly Hill Community Resource Center, 1046 Daytona Ave., for one more year.
Commissioner Donnie Moore -- a frequent critic of the city's dependence on the Y for recreation -- was the lone dissenter. "(That's) Roughly $3,000 a Holly Hill member," he said at the meeting. "That's quite an amount."
In addition to the $45,000, the city eliminated $500 a month rent the Y had been paying, and will continue to pay the facility's utilities as agreed in previous bargains. The cost will be about $90,000 this year.
In a telephone interview after the meeting, Teresa Rogers, president and CEO of the Volusia/Flagler Family YMCA, said the facility has nearly 300 members. About 85 percent are paying reduced fees. There's an additional 500 to 700 infrequent to consistent users with preventive-care benefits from their insurance providers that pay for their individual visits, along with a handful of non-members who pay to take classes at the Y.
"We average 50 to 100 (users) daily, and that's total," Ms. Rogers said. "The usage is about 50 to 100 a day come through."
Also, the YMCA has an afterschool program that averages 12 children a day, and a summer camp that attracts about 50. Some of those children are among the 300 members.
The facility has been losing money from the start, Ms. Rogers said in previous interviews. In its original deal with the city, the Y paid $1,000-a-month rent and utilities. The YMCA notified the city last spring it was going to pull up stakes and leave.
But, in June, the city commission approved a plan to slash the Y's rent in half and pay its utilities. The deal was estimated to cost the city about $40,000 a year. At the time Jim McCroskey, city manager, said it could save the taxpayers much more than if the city tried to build a recreation program from scratch on the fly.
Despite the deal, the Y was still losing too much money, Ms. Rogers said. The YMCA sent the city a letter in August saying it needed more assistance, or it was going to close in March.
Ms. Rogers said the Holly Hill facility costs about $250,000 a year to operate.
In an interview after the recent meeting, Mr. McCroskey said the additional $45,000, which was slated to build a gazebo at Ross Point Park, buys the city nine months to explore its recreation options.
"The YMCA contract as it is written has a 90-day clause in it that either party has 90 days to notify the other of termination," he said. "If the YMCA is not in the (fiscal year 2013-2014) budget Oct. 1, I'll give them notice that they're not in the budget and that gives me 90 days to notify them for Jan. 1."
Mr. McCroskey said he's exploring a number of recreational options to present to the commission. Some include coordinating recreation programs with Volusia County, hiring a private company, creating a city-run department or developing a public-private partnership with the Y or other organization.
The commission is considering hiring a consultant to study uses of the old Holly Hill Middle School, 1066 Center St. The city acquired the property from Volusia County Schools through its Community Redevelopment Agency.
"We're getting ready to hire a public consultant and will probably have three public meetings about what is going to happen at the old middle school," Mr. McCroskey said.
Among its possible uses is a city-run recreation program.
"The best thing we can have is many citizens come and tell us, 'We want to see this done with our taxpayers money; we don't want this done with our taxpayers money,'" Mr. McCroskey said.