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SoBo Council to YMCA: ‘We got your back’

The YMCA of South Boston-Halifax County will receive an extra $4,000 appropriation for the current budget year, the result of a unanimous show of support from South Boston Town Council at Monday’s meeting.


On a motion by Councilman Coleman Speece and a second from Councilwoman Tina Wyatt Younger, council approved the extra $4,000 to come out of council’s contingency fund.

Council had already appropriated $6,000 to the YMCA from the current year budget, but YMCA Executive Director Marcus Hargrave had approached members of the town’s finance committee to request the additional funds, according to Speece.

Hargrave approached Speece and fellow finance committee member Ed Owens with the request for extra funding to assist with costs associated with the purchase and installation of a new filtering pump system for the YMCA pool, Speece told council.

Hargrave said the old sand filter system in use at the YMCA was 37 years old, and they had made as many repairs as they possibly could to keep the system in state compliance.

“One more repair, and it would be out of state compliance,” Hargrave said Monday night. “We had to replace the entire system with a better operating system. The pool operates better than before.”  

“It cost them some $20,000, and they requested the town consider underwriting part of this repair,” Speece said.

“Mr. Owens and I were asked to evaluate this.  Each of us individually and collectively met with Mr. Hargrave. We have given this a lot of thought, individually and together,” he added.

Speece admitted he had initial reservations about committing the extra funds but changed his mind after an in-depth review of the YMCA’s operational budget.

Some of the organizations, businesses and industries that contributed to the YMCA in its creative stages, such as Leggett’s and Burlington Industries, no longer exist, Speece pointed out.

“There’s a stronger argument and rationale about supporting a valuable community asset,” he said. “We went through in detail the ‘Y’ budget…it has a strong membership with over 1,200 paying members, and it was our collective judgment the ‘Y’ should be able to operate with its membership money.”

Speece said he and Owens recognized the YMCA is dealing with an aging infrastructure and equipment.

“They have some long-term debt that they’re carrying, about a quarter of a million dollars, some of which came about after replacing roofing around the pool area, a major expense,” Speece explained.

Speece and Owens recommended to council the town increase its annual contribution to the YMCA to $10,000, but with the condition that Hargrave create a reserve or depreciation fund for repair and replacement of equipment, starting with the 2013-2014 budget cycle. 

“While each new budget year is a separate thing that has to stand on its own, if conditions remain the same, we expect to budget in 2013 $10,000 to the ‘Y’ conditioned on Mr. Hargrave creating some kind of reserve/depreciation fund for repair and replacement of equipment,” Speece noted.

“I propose we get a copy of the ‘Y’ budget in coming years to make sure that money goes into the reserve. I don’t propose to pay operating expenses but do propose increasing the fund we give for maintenance of facilities,” he added.

A member of the YMCA since he moved to South Boston, Speece said the facility is a great asset.

“The ‘Y’ today is in better condition than before Marcus got there,” he said.

Owens agreed with Speece that the YMCA is a “positive community entity.”

“Anytime you put money in a budget, there’ll be bumps in the road,” admitted Owens. “Over the last four years, they’ve had to come back for emergencies to ask for additional appropriations from us. 

“This will forgo that for next year,” Owens added. “Therefore, we won’t have to anticipate any special request in the middle of a budget year.”