Recreation Department Receives Major Cuts

David Cooper credits his success as Director of Worth County’s Recreation Department to his “love for children” and the “solid foundation” that Murt Melton left behind. The department’s budget, however, is one topic that has been highly debated since the Board of Commissioners made the decision to only award the department $50,000 of the requested $165,000. Cooper wants the public to understand how important the department’s budget is to its stability.
The city and county entities had previously voted to “match each other” when it came to providing the Recreation Department’s budgetary needs. Cooper contends that before Worth County Board of Commissioners Chairman Mike Cosby was elected, he was vocal about honoring the agreement between the Recreation Department and the city and county entities. However once the department’s budget was turned in, Cosby told Cooper to “sharpen his pencil.” Of course what he meant was to be prepared to make certain “cuts” to the department’s proposed budget. Cosby then told Cooper the department would be awarded another $25,000 if the increase in millage rate passed… which it did not.
The Recreation Department charges a registration fee of $45 per sport for each child. Cooper says he will be forced to increase these fees if the department doesn’t receive the proper funding. He says the thought of “losing some of his kids” due to this change has “kept him up nights.” Cooper hopes that the “politics” of the situation will “be put aside” and the “focus will be placed back on the children.”
The department’s budget makes up for many aspects including building utilities, insurance and maintenance on equipment. Cooper says if the funding is decreased, the department will have to “look outside the box” as far as fundraising is concerned. The number of umpires and referees will be one of the changes forced to be made. Cooper has done his homework when it comes to the Recreation Department and he says he recently discovered Worth County is the “lowest funded Recreation Department in our district.” The department is steadily growing and the additional funding is necessary to its survival. The Fall Sports roster sported 30 additional cheerleaders this year alone. There was an increase in Spring Sports by one team as well as an added two teams to the baseball league.
For all of its hard work the department has had a lot of success, including 2nd and 3rd place in state tournaments for softball and baseball. Cooper credits these victories to the dedication of the department’s coaches. He says that Worth County’s youth need positive role models in their lives and this is one of the main reasons for the importance of the Recreation Department. “If a child is struggling at home they can be involved in a program that provides positive influence,” says Cooper. He hopes the public will show its support for the department during these tough times ahead.