We aren’t totally sold on the city of Oneonta’s outsourcing its summer recreational programming.
We would dearly love to be proved wrong, but we definitely have our doubts that the city is acting in the best interests of its citizens by having the local YMCA do the work.
On its surface, the math is pretty clear. The city government stands to save about $15,000. Finance Director Meg Hungerford said the city would have had to hire 15 to 20 lifeguards and 10 staff for the day-long “drop-off” playground program. In all, the city would be set back about $80,000.
Meanwhile, Oneonta is paying the Oneonta Family YMCA $65,000. Sounds like a win/win situation, doesn’t it?
But not so fast.
For youth programs, the YMCA is charging a $10 registration fee for city and non-city residents, plus program fees to non-city residents, and the day-long drop-off is a thing of the past.
City residents will be able to swim for free at the Briggs Pool in Wilber Park, but they will have to go to the trouble of obtaining a pass. These will have to be obtained June 2-7 during limited hours at the Armory, or at the YMCA after June 7.
Where before, swimming was free for city residents and non-residents, now residents will need to provide a photo identification with proof of residency such as a utility bill or driver’s license.
The “Y” will be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Friday, for registration, but what about those spur-of-the-moment decisions locals might make on a hot July or August weekend to take the kids to the pool if they haven’t registered?
There is much to be said for addressing the previous unfairness of city citizens paying with their taxes for non-residents to use the pool, and the fees for those who might live in the town rather than the city aren’t exactly draconian.
Charges for non-city resident use will be $1 for a child, $3 for adults and $8 for a family, YMCA officials said, and season passes will be $25 for a child, $75 for an adult and $125 for a family.
But when it comes to — say — charges for swimming lessons, there will be a $10 one-time registration fee for city residents, and non-city residents will be charged a $10 registration fee plus $50 for the four-week period. That’s a pretty stiff price.
“This is going to be as seamless as possible,” said Oneonta Mayor Dick Miller, “but I do expect surprises. We’ll learn from those surprises.”
One of those surprises just may be that residents might chafe at the fees and bureaucracy and want to go back next year to the way things used to be.