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Supervisors appear ready to cut all YMCA funding over the next 3 years

by Larry Chowning

The Middlesex County Board of Supervisors seemed content at a budget workshop on March 29 to wean the Middlesex Family YMCA off direct annual funding from the county.

Pinetop District supervisor Chip Holt encouraged supervisors to cut the YMCA’s FY17 budget request by $15,833—a third of the $47,500 in funds the county has given the Y the past several years.

Holt and Hartfield District supervisor Bob LeBoeuf want to cut another $15,833 in Y funding next year, and totally eliminate all county funding by the FY19 budget. “I’m all for weaning the YMCA off the county budget,” said Holt.

LeBoeuf suggested county funds going directly to the YMCA be redirected to the Middlesex County Department of Social Services (DSS)to be used to support the YMCA Guardian Program.

The YMCA charges fees for its youth and adult programs. The Y has a Guardian Program designed to cover the cost of those who cannot afford the fees. The Guardian Program is funded by donations and money raised at fundraisers. 

LeBoeuf suggested the county establish a “block grant” that will go toward supporting the YMCA Guardian Program. He wants the program to be administered by the DSS, which already has information on families and children with financial needs.

Holt agreed and said he would rather see these funds go through the DSS as a means of guaranteeing that county funds are going into the Guardian Program.

Holt has contended throughout the budget process that the YMCA has received a great deal of support from Middlesex County. The county has provided at little cost the building and grounds for the YMCA at the site of the former Wilton Elementary School on Route 33 at Hartfield. “They (YMCA) have spent a great deal of money to make it (facilities) all work,” said Holt. “But the buildings and grounds need to be figured into what we, as a county, are doing to support the Y.”

When LeBoeuf asked Harmony Village supervisor Jack Miller and Jamaica District supervisor Wayne Jessie if they were onboard with this plan, both seemed to indicate they were.

Saluda District supervisor Pete Mansfield was not at the March 29 work session. However, at a budget work session on Tuesday, April 5, Mansfield spoke on behalf of the YMCA. “I’m opposed to cutting funds from our YMCA,” he said. “The YMCA does a great deal of good for our community and I don’t think Middlesex County could afford to deliver the services that are coming from our Y—the $50,000 we have been giving them doesn’t come close to paying for the services we receive.”

Also at the April 5 meeting, Jessie said the YMCA has been beneficial to the county, but much of its work has been directed to the lower end of Middlesex. “For a lot of people, the YMCA facility [at Hartfield] is too far away to be utilized regularly,” he said. “The YMCA has come a long ways, and when they started we gave them seed money to help them get ahead. Well, they are ahead now, and I think it’s time for them to fly on their own.”

posted 04.06.2016

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