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County Recreation consumes more than it provides

web posted August 16, 2007
OPINION – When the Edgefield County Council created the county recreation department it was said that the cost of the program would never exceed $60,000, and would actually be lower because the initial budget would be more than normal due to “start-up costs”. Since then funding for recreation has mushroomed into hundreds of thousands of dollars each year. Many people question where the money goes, including some of the coaches.

In this year’s budget Bettis Park is listed as receiving $70,913. However, on other line item listing Bettis Park also receives an additional $3,500 for a total of $74,413, basically one quarter of the entire $288,000 recreation budget. Bettis Park’s budget also shows a salaried employee making over $30,000 a year. This is in addition to a recreation director making over $34,789 plus benefits.

In 2006 Bettis Park received $350,000 for improvements above and beyond its regular budget.

Johnston Mayor Willie Campbell has said he feels the towns are being slighted when it comes to funding from the county and he would be correct. But that should not be corrected by increasing the dollars already being pumped into the bloated recreation budget. The recreation budget needs to be cut, but it will not happen.

County recreation has its own millage rate. As tax revenues increase, so does the funding. This has to be corrected. Once the recreation funding was tied to a millage rate it breathed eternal life into the monster that now consumes far more than it provides.

The towns complain they are not getting enough funding. Norman Dorn complains the Northside is not getting enough funding. And the Merriwether area, which pays roughly two-thirds of the county taxes, gets nothing because there is no park located in the most populated part of the county.

The resolution is to remove the millage rate for recreation and make the program go it alone. If the county recreation program cannot be self-sustaining, as it was sold to the taxpayer in the beginning, it should be ended. It really is just that simple.

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