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Supervisor said Fire All Rec Center Employees

Postby Sal » Thu Aug 16, 2012 8:12 pm

After 20 years of throwing money at the Newton Recreation Center that went nowhere, it is time to rethink.

At last Wednesday’s supervisors work session, there was discussions with the committee members of the Newton Recreation Center.  There was talk of fund raisers and other business but the one thing that kept coming up was the employees. There are four employees that include three staff members and one cleaning person.  Supervisor Ronald Koldjeski felt that the employees should be doing more.  

Mr. Koldjeski was upset because he asked an employee to squirt weeds and he would not do it.  He also said that when mulch was put down the employees did not help.  Supervisor Doug Pallman questioned if maybe mulch should be put down by DPW and weeds trimmed by the lawn service.

Mr. Koldjeski said that he did not mind the township doing things to help out but that it bothers him when he sees a person sitting in an office doing nothing and there are papers on the floor and debris on the concrete and weeds around the building, and this guy is saying too bad.

Mr. Koldjeski was really putting pressure on the committee to fire and replace all the employees.  He told them not be afraid to fire people that are not doing their job.  And he told them “they wouldn’t be my employees”

Which begs the question, what is their job and who is the employer?

There is a lot more.  You can click here to download the audio file. 17MB one hour.

Mr. Koldjeski’s concerns are understandable.  Many of supervisors and ordinary people have been frustrated with the amount of money that is spent on the rec center and some have called it outright waste.   But replacing employees will not accomplish anything.  

The rec center is not used much by the public except for maybe some planned events and they don’t need employees for that.  So, instead of firing and replacing employees that are not needed, lay them off.
Sal
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Re: Supervisor said Fire All Rec Center Employees

Postby Sal » Thu Aug 16, 2012 8:15 pm

Day Two

The following day I went to the rec center to check things out.  The weeds that were sprayed behind the building were gone but new ones were coming up.  Weeds are like that and require routine maintenance just like a lawn.  

The building is rented to a private school and day care that takes care of children of all ages and they do a great job.  The school opens at 6:30 am.  Parents drop off their kids, the doors are locked and the school takes care of everything.  

At around 9:00 or 10:00 am a township rec center employee shows up and kicks the doors open so that anyone can come in.  There have been security problems because of that but so far they have been contained.
 
The township decided to rent out the schoolhouse to generate income because the rec center was losing money like mad.  The people that rented the schoolhouse use it as a private school and daycare.  However, both operations using the building at the same time is incompatible.  I have never seen a school open its doors to public while it is in session inviting people to use the building.  It is silly for the township to do that just to claim that it is a rec center.

Inside the building, there were many small children that were very well behaved and that were under the control of the school. The place was clean. There was no trash or paper on the floor and even the trash can looked clean.   The rec center employee said that there is a cleaning person and that if he sees any trash, he puts it in the trash can.

I asked the employee if he was the one that was told to spray the weeds and he said that he knew nothing about weeds.  However, a lady that was standing next to him said that Mr. Koldjeski wanted the weed removed and that he got someone to do it but she did not hear that a staff member was asked to do it.

Then supervisor Kevin Carr arrived.  At first, he was a little agitated but then we had a constructive talk with the employee.  I explained to Mr. Carr reasons why employees should not be handling any type of chemicals and that it would be best to have the lawn maintenance people take care of any weeds.  

Interestingly, the township clears the parking lot but apparently, there is no policy for who is responsible for snow removal on walkways.  The employee said that he has cleared snow many times but that he should not be the only one that clears snow.  I suggested to Mr. Carr that whoever is responsible for clearing the parking lot should also clear the walkways when there is a plowable amount of snow.  For dustings, whoever is in the building should take care of the steps.

I asked the rec center employee if anyone uses the place besides the tenants and he said not much in the summer but when school starts, the activity picks up.  Here again, what you have is afterschool activity that is generated and managed by the tenant’s business operation that is open from 6:30 am to 6:00 pm.  They even pick up kids from other schools and bring them there.  And the township should not be paying employees for that.

The building could be used for various planned events as it has in the past but to open the doors to everyone while school related activities are ongoing just to claim that it is a rec center seems reckless and unsecure in this day and age.

This all started with people wanting to save the old Newton-Ransom schoolhouse.  Ransom got out and Newton did it alone.  People thought it would make a good recreational facility but that didn’t work and it won’t work because there is no need for it and not enough people to support it.

The Abington Area Joint Recreation Board offered to help and maybe that would have worked.  But the supervisors said no and the rec center has gone nowhere.  

The school is what people want and support not the rec center.  The township should stop wasting money on the rec center.  After 20 years of beating on a dead horse, it’s time to hang it up.

On the bright side, things are not so bad because from the old school, we now have different kind of school.  One that pays rent to the township and that created jobs and provides services that people in our immediate area need and want.  The building is being used for an excellent purpose and that is all that counts.

There is nothing wrong with having a school instead of a rec center.  After all, it never succeeded as a rec center but it always was and still is a school.

Any parents that need the services of a good day care or preschool should check it out!  Follow the link to the Daydreamers website http://www.daydreamerschildcare.com

Questions, comments, corrections, suggestions and opinions are all welcome.   :P
Sal
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Re: Supervisor said Fire All Rec Center Employees

Postby davidk » Fri Aug 24, 2012 10:07 pm

Note: These comments are posted by me a private citizen, not as an elected official.
Sal,
I agree, the Rec Center is a money pit that needs to be shut down and sold.
I was a charter member of the Rec Committee, as I then thought it was a good idea. Over the years I have changed my mind as I see more money going in without any real return to the taxpayers.
The Center earns a small portion of what it takes to operate and the bills keep piling up.
I have been told, in a public meeting, by a Supervisor that it is a "quality of life" issue.
Really? That leads me to ask the taxpayers just how much quality they are receiving for all the money that has been put into the facility over the years?
Most township residents enter the Rec Center only to vote, if even then.
I would like to see the issue of a sale placed on a binding referendum, but I doubt that is legal under state law.
The only other option is to replace at least two of the sitting Supervisors, and that will take at least three years.
In the meantime the bills will keep coming.
The township is financially stable (for now), which is more than can be said for most munis, but we would be even better off without the Rec Center on the books.
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Re: Supervisor said Fire All Rec Center Employees

Postby Sal » Mon Sep 24, 2012 8:18 pm

David,

I agree with you, shut down the rec center, sell the property and payoff the debts.

As far as the township being financially stable, I see things differently.  The CPA firm for the township painted a rosy picture but they admitted that the reason for all the extra cash was because money that was supposed to be spent on road maintenance last year was pushed to the beginning of this year so there may not be much left at the end of this year.

Another thing is that the township has been receiving a windfall the last few years by collecting wage tax from prior years that should have been paid to the township but was kept by other municipalities.

The windfall is all fine and great but it will not keep coming in and the township spends all it gets so you can expect a tax increase.  

Also, I do not put a much faith in CPAs.  Enron, Bernie Madoff, all the other frauds and all the banks that collapsed had plenty of CPAs.  The CPAs just do a juggling act to balance the books.

The stakeholders which in this case are the citizens of the township and their elected auditors need to watch the money. :wink:
Sal
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Re: Supervisor said Fire All Rec Center Employees

Postby Sal » Mon Sep 24, 2012 8:34 pm

Feedback I get plenty of it.  Your emails and comments are appreciated but feel free to post what's on your mind here.

I got quite a bit of feedback from people concerned about the rec center and no one was in favor of it.  Also, some people thought I want the road crew to clear the walkway at the rec center and that they did not think they should be doing that.  

I can see that post two above could be interpreted that way.  So let me clear that up.

I do not think the Road Crew should be clearing snow at the Rec Center at all and if they had to clear walkways then they would spend more time at the Rec Center instead of on the roads where they should be.

I stated above
Interestingly, the township clears the parking lot but apparently, there is no policy for who is responsible for snow removal on walkways.

It is interesting because apparently the landlord, Newton Township, never had an adequate plan for removing snow from the walkways.  

Mr. John Shaffer, former supervisor and current auditor, said the road crew clearing the snow in the parking lot is just another unrecorded hidden cost to the taxpayers.

I believe I heard $100,000 budgeted for the rec center.  How many millions of dollars have been wasted on what they call a rec center but is really a rental property in disguise?

If that is not bad enough, the township is now in debt because of the rec center and we have to pay interest on that debt.  On top of that, they keep dumping more money into the pit.

Supervisor Koldjeski said that the rec center employees do not do anything.  If that is true and it appears to be, why not lay them off to reduce the amount of money that is wasted every day on people that do nothing?  

Mr. Koldjeski mentioned grants a few times.  Maybe it is some sort of fraud?  Take a rental property, call it a recreation center, get people to donate their hard earned money and divert taxpayers’ money to it too.    

If someone stole $100 from the township, people would have a fit over it.  Here we have a huge amount of township money disappearing into a bottomless pit and that needs to  stop.

On August 30th, $3,764 was paid out of the rec center account related to a golf tournament at a local golf club.  Two of the auditors and I were scratching our heads wondering what does that have to do with the rec center?

The Newton Township elected auditors need to do a thorough examination into all money aspects of the rec center and they need your support.
Sal
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