Clifton Park board grants parks and rec ability to hike fees

A resolution that would allow Clifton Park's director of parks, recreation and community affairs adjust the terms of programs, facilities and events without approval of the town board sparked debate among board members at the Wednesday, Jan. 2, meeting.

Under scrutiny was the director's ability to raise fees for programs or facilities run by the parks and recreation department.

Councilman Scott Hughes, who created the resolution said, Our goal was to empower the parks and recreation department to make small adjustments to user fees, if necessary, to ensure that we can cover our costs.

He said that because of the open meetings law, the board is not able to meet in private to approve such fees, which makes seeking approval of small fees cumbersome.

"We hire good people, and it is a common sense measure to make town government more efficient," Hughes said.

The final amended resolution, which passed despite lone dissenter Councilman Sandy Roth's opposition, authorizes the director to make small changes to "existing or previously budgeted" program, facility and event costs.

Roth, who argued against the resolution, said, "I have a responsibility to the community to ensure that everything we do in this town is budgeted."

He said he has the utmost confidence in Myla Kramer, director of Parks, Recreation and Community Affairs, but that the community elected the board to manage the money.

Kramer, who has served as director for two and a half years, said she estimates her budget based on the previous year; however, she cannot always anticipate the costs of supplies. Therefore, it is often necessary to raise fees.

She said that a couple of years ago, when buying chemicals for the pool, she noticed a rise in the price that her budget did not reflect. In that instance, she said, it would have been convenient to have the ability to raise the fee for pool use.

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