In its first meeting since learning it would handle the creation of a recreation department, city council engaged in discussions toward making the department a reality.
The discussion bred more questions than answers.
“I have a lot of questions to ask about this whole thing,” councilman Jerry Kline said. “Lots of them. And it pertains to money. There’s two important factors here: children and money.”
Hiring, board construction, funding, and school involvement were all among the major issues.
The inclusion of the cemetery board in the recreation department was debated.
Council member Jerry Kline contended it was a separate entity and should remain so, while Chad Adkins said there’s no reason for cemetery maintenance to be carried out by a different group than the one that does park maintenance. Likewise, no decision was reached.
City administrator Roger Holter suggested advertising the recreation director position through the regular process. The council seemed receptive to the idea but made no decision.
Holter and Mayor Todd Heitschmidt stressed the importance of crafting a nine-person volunteer board as soon as possible. The board would help brainstorm ideas for how the department would operate.
Rec commission director Margo Yates said current board members she’s talked to are uninterested in joining the city board. Also the uncertainty regarding the inclusion of the cemetery board affects the recreation board, as cemetery board members would be appointed if it were included in recreation.
With USD 408 not yet into its budget process, the city doesn’t know whether it can count on the $8,000 allocation that had been coming in under the previous interlocal agreement. Holter said indications were that the funding would continue, but Chad Adkins said cessation of that funding has been discussed for the first time due to recent budget struggles between the state and public schools.
Despite suggesting the rescinding of a commitment to offer her the job before advertising, Holter was complimentary of Yates’ cooperation in discussions to construct a recreation department. He said she had been helpful in developing budget outlines despite not knowing whether the recreation director position would be offered to her.