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Evansville Youth Center’s funding source could change

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GINA R. HEINE
August 7, 2010
— The Evansville School Board on Monday will continue discussion about bringing funding for the city’s youth center under school district taxes rather than put it on city tax bills.

City officials presented the idea to the board last month as a way to spread the funding source over all school district taxpayers instead of just those in the city.


“We’re at the beginning of the budget process, but we know it’s going to be incredibly tight,” Mayor Sandy Decker said.


The city cut $10,000 from the youth center budget this year, forcing the YMCA of Northern Rock County—which provides the programming—to cut hours and close during the summer.


The city paid the YMCA $24,556 this year.


The city owns the youth center building at 209 S. First St., and the center has an advisory board.


While the city is asking the school district to take on funding for the center, it also is trying to restore hours and programming by asking for $40,000 a year.


The city proposed the school district create a Fund 80, which is a fund outside of the school district’s revenue cap that would be used for community services such as adult education or community recreation programs.


School district taxpayers would have to vote on creating a Fund 80 at the annual meeting on Monday, Aug. 23. The meeting agenda includes the issue as an action item, though it is unclear what action the board will take.


The city and school district have different budget years, but the center will have city funds through the end of December. The school district’s budget will be approved in fall, but it will be retroactive from July through the end of June 2011.


The youth center advisory board is proposing $20,000 from the school district to cover the first six months of 2011. The proposed request would then increase to $40,000 annually for the next full budget cycle.


Adding the $20,000 in funding to the school district tax bill would equal three cents per $1,000 of assessed value, Decker said. The same $20,000 on the city tax bill now costs about six cents per $1,000 of assess value, she said.


The rate drops on the school bill because it is spread over more taxpayers, she said.


“For people who live in the city, this is not a new tax. This is moving something from the city budget to the school budget,” said Greg Kuelz, advisory board president.


The proposed bump in funding would restore the center’s budget to about what it was before the city cut it, he said.


This year’s cuts reduced the center’s hours from 15 per week to 10, and closed the facility during the summer. The volunteer advisory board has been working like crazy, Kuelz said, to raise funds to fill the gap.


So far their efforts have raised enough to restore the five hours per week starting in fall, he said.


The proposed funding boost would continue the restored hours as well as increase programming, such as providing an after-school snack for the kids, bringing in speakers and planning activities.


“We’ve been really working extremely hard as a board to be able to do fundraising,” Kuelz said. “The challenge has been is that’s all the board has been able to do is fundraising to keep the doors open.”


The city would continue to own the building, which also is the home of the AWARE Agency. However, the school district would take over authority of the advisory board.


The school board also would be able to review other programming options instead of another contract with the YMCA, though that still would be an option, Decker said.



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