At the last Town Council meeting, a number of residents expressed concern as to how the Town was going to pay for a new Parks and Recreation Director without increasing funding for the Bay Oaks Recreation Campus. This week, we sat with Interim Town Manager Jim Steele to ask that question, and also met with Athletics Director Adam Leicht to see if anyone really is going to lose their job and what is being planned for Bay Oaks now that the budget is set.
“The existing budget (2015/2016) for Bay Oaks salaries – including FICA, retirement & disability and health – is $326,215, and the coming year’s budget reduces that amount by $93,” Steele said. “That covers three full time people at $62,000/year: Adam Leicht, Sarah Mayher and Danielle Felton, two part time people at $16,121/year and a director at $107,878/year.”
Steele told us that staff did not need to add in a director’s salary to the coming year’s budget because it was already there.
“The former Parks and Recreation Director – Randy Norton – left in March (2016), so his salary was in the Bay Oaks’ budget for last year,” Steele explained. “When he left, what was left of his salary was used to pay for his accrued benefits and leave – $20,076.”
Steele said that when Council said that the millage rate must remain at .8, Administrative Services Director Maureen Rischitelli worked with Town staff to figure out how to allocate Bay Oaks’ staff in order to keep the campus open from 7:30am to 9pm Monday through Friday, and from 10am to 9pm on Saturday.
“As they add more programs, all of the those programs will be self-funded, meaning the revenues generated by the participants will pay the salary of whatever staff person is needed to run them,” Steele said. “That way the revenue equals the cost to provide the service. We will also be able to amend the budget throughout the year to reflect changes in operations.”
Adam Leicht told us that is the way that Bay Oaks has been operating for a while now, and the only difference is that they will need to be more diligent about it.
“Basically, the part time people are there to make sure there’s someone at the front desk at all times,” he said. “The rest of our staff is funded by actual programming. All those programs will now be cost-offsetting, which actually makes sense to me as I think it’s an idea that will work if it’s done properly.”
Leicht said that no one is going to lose their jobs, nor will their paychecks change.
“The hardest part will be predicting what kind of participation there will be and when the cut offs will be for people to sign up,” he said. “If we don’t have enough people signed up by a certain date, then we’ll have to cancel the program. We used to be able to be more flexible about that, so it’s going to take a while for everyone to get used to.”
Adam said that he, Danielle and Sarah have been meeting regularly to figure out how to accomplish this.
“The biggest thing we’ve talked about is changing the criteria of the programs so people know what to expect now – that they absolutely have to sign up by a certain time, that they need to have their cards scanned when they come in,” he said. “I think that right now is the perfect time for this to be happening as it’s slow so we can get people trained in new habits before all the seasonal folks come back.”
Coming Up at Bay Oaks
So what does Adam and the rest of the Bay Oaks crew have planned for the coming year?
“Well, right now all our focus is on Fright Night – October 21st – of course,” Adam said. “Danielle has been really going at it collecting candy and prizes. After that, I would like to see us do a big special event at least every 3 months or so. The next one will probably have a holiday/Town birthday theme. I’d also like to do smaller events like maybe have a pancake breakfast before the Shrimp Festival Parade or something. We’ve been kicking around lots of ideas.”
Beginning in November, Adam also wants to have a full fitness schedule up and running for season.
“Right now I’m looking for an aerobics/spin instructor,” he said. “I’m also open to ideas about what people would like to teach – everything from hula hoops to belly dancing. If it brings in participants, then it’s all good.”
All fitness classes are run by the instructor, with Bay Oaks promoting them in their newsletter and press releases.
“We take 25% of what revenue the classes bring in,” Leicht said. “That’s basically for the facilities rental. Since the instructors are not Bay Oaks’ staff, they take ownership of the classes.”
All in all, Adam says he’s optimistic about the direction that Bay Oaks is heading.
“I grew up coming here, as did Sarah and (Aquatics Supervisor) Nathaly, so the idea that we now have the opportunity to shape the future of this place is something that really excites me,” he said. “I’m looking forward to the future.”
Keri Hendry Weeg