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Fees won’t curtail Wilson recreation program, Clark vows

WILSON – The fees that the Wilson School Board imposed Tuesday for community use of school facilities won’t prevent the Town of Wilson from operating its usual recreation program, Town Councilman Brad L. Clark told the board.

Clark, who is also deputy town supervisor, told reporters he thought the total tab to the town for its various sports and recreational offerings will be less than $1,000, in addition to the $12,000 a year the town already is paying the school each year for the services of teachers and other district personnel.

“This program is going to happen no matter what the board has to do,” Clark declared. He also pledged that the town will not pass any of the costs on to participants in the programs.

“Even if I’ve got to pay for it myself, they’re not going to pay,” Clark said. “I’ve never been this emotional about anything.”

The fees the board unanimously approved for each group using the school facilities are $100 per season, defined as winter, spring, summer or fall, or $50 per individual event.

District business manager John D. Montesanti said each group can choose the fee that suits it best.

The School Board imposed the fees after the adoption of a nearly $24.3 million contingency budget, which resulted from two defeats by voters on the School Board’s proposed spending plan.

State law requires the district not to take on any additional costs for noncontingent programs while it is using a contingency budget, Montesanti said.

Clark suggested a token $1 fee from the district to the town, telling reporters the Wilson Fire Company leases a large parking lot to the Village of Wilson for $1 a year. “It can be done,” he said.

“It’s a little unfair to charge the usage fee to groups that are in the middle of their seasons,” member-elect Amy Phillips told the board.

Montesanti said, “We tried to come up with something the community thought was fair and reasonable and repair the feeling that’s out there.”

Wilson resident Mel Smith said the budget would have passed on the second public referendum if the board had cut spending.

The board kept the same spending total but appropriated more reserve funds to reduce the increase in the tax levy from 4 percent to 2 percent. The voters still said no.

“I did miss the boat. … I was more interested in the amount people pay in taxes than in total spending,” said board President Timothy F. Kropp, presiding over his last meeting after 18 years on the board. He lost his re-election bid by 10 votes.