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County recreation board asks for increased funding

Article Date: 
26 October, 2012 (All day)

The way recreation programs are handled by the city, county and school board may be changing in the near future.  Changes could affect the annual 4th of July celebration. 
This year, the recreation board is requesting a 10 percent increase in funding  from the three cooperating entities.  For the county and county, that would mean another $2,000 on top of the $20,000 typical contribution.  The city is being asked for $540 more.  The entities are attempting to draft an interlocal agreement acceptable to all parties.
But that won’t be all.  Many community leaders are exploring the possibility of creating a new taxing entity to help pay for recreation programs.
“It is obviously an option,” Morgan County Councilman Robert Kilmer said.  
Kilmer said that originally the 4th of July celebration was held at the Wilkinson Recreation Complex, or RecPlex, to showcase the facility.  However, the celebration has now grown into a major celebration held at Riverside Park in Morgan City.  
“It is no longer held at the complex anymore,” Kilmer said.  “It is more of a celebration of community.”
As such, Kilmer said city officials would like to see the organization of the 4th of July event transferred from the city and recreation board to a private community board.  A good portion of the current committee will be resigning.
“They are burned out,” Kilmer said.  “Some things have pushed them over the edge,” such as having to purchase liability insurance.  The ban on fireworks this year cost the celebration up to $4,000 in lost revenue, he said.
Kilmer said he approached the local chamber of commerce about heading up the 2013 4th of July celebration.
“I would like to see it continue in one form or another,” Councilman Don Mathews said.
City officials have approached the county council to ask permission to use the fireworks left over from the 4th of July celebration for a Christmas event instead.