Potential cuts facing the Canal Winchester School District if a 7.9-mill operating levy fails Nov. 6 could have ramifications beyond the school system and impact the operation of the Canal Winchester recreation district.
Speaking at Canal Winchester Village Council’s Oct. 15 meeting, Councilwoman Leah Turner said the recreation district was told it could face up to $50,000 in additional costs if the school district is forced to begin charging rental fees for use of sports venues.
"What happens if we have to pay the $50,000?" asked Turner. "These people are really stressed to pay out the $50,000. I don’t see how it could be done. They’ve got their books so up to date, you can’t believe. It’s an organized organization. It’s a scary thing to have hanging out in front of you. We’re going to have to do something. We can’t let that rec board go down. Basically, that money ain’t there."
The Canal Winchester Joint Recreation District operates karate, soccer, baseball, softball, golf, swimming, cheerleading, football, volleyball, basketball, and wrestling programs throughout the village.
The district is operated and administered by a team of volunteers and provides athletic and recreational opportunities for residents of the school district and village. Budgets for each individual sport are set by the amount of revenue generated by the sport. Planning budgets are filed in November and registration fees determined in January.
Recreation District President Bob Toledo said the issue and the way the district was notified of the potential facility charges hit the organization as a surprise.
"One of the things we value most is our relationship with the city and the schools," replied Toledo. "I don’t know what the final amounts would be that we would be charged, but it could potentially eliminate all of our indoor programs. These programs generate probably the least amount of revenue out of all of our programs. In order to keep them running I could not see us jumping our rates by double, which is what we would need to do. We try to keep our fees reasonable as we continue to grow. We do have a new park that will absorb a lot of our outside soccer teams, but the football field we built in the rear of Indian Trail would be needed. It is my understanding that if the levy passes, we have nothing to worry about. If it does not pass though, the organization would probably see some major changes."
The present school policy does not charge non-profit organizations for use of district buildings and fields. However, if the levy is defeated, one of the proposed methods for recouping costs is to charge fees to groups not exempted by law.
Canal Winchester Schools Treasurer Joyce Boyer said charges for use of school facilities by the recreation district could be in excess of $30,000 depending upon the number and type of venues used by participants. According to a report by Operations Director John Gifford, on average, the recreation district uses school buildings 20 hours a week, 40 weeks a year, for a total of 3,200 hours.
"Charges would be based on per area use and my numbers estimate $30,000 based on what they’re using now," stated Boyer. "They use practically all of the buildings and gyms all weekend. They’re in there all day on Saturdays and in the evenings on Sunday at the high school, middle school, and the elementaries."
Canal Winchester Council President John Bender lauded recreation district leaders for their work and said his opinion is to take a wait-and-see approach until after the November election.