The president of the Magnolia Community Club (MCC) has sent a letter to the mayor suggesting his budget has mislabeled the neighborhood’s community center and its level of usage.
Mayor Mike McGinn’s budget for 2012 shows, as it did last year, more cuts into community centers throughout the city. Of the $121,130,643 proposed for a 2012 Parks and Recreation (DPR) budget, $81,274,457 is to be pulled from the general fund – which has been shrinking under the current economy. Hence the need for cuts.
About 67 percent of the DPR budget or $81,677,000 is personnel. So the mayor looked at ways to trim that cost yet keep facilities open. So with a team of consultants, he created service level designations for centers based on physical facilities, current use and demographics. Level 1 means a community center is open 70 hours a week. Level 2a means a center is open up to 45 hours a week and Level 2b means a center stays open no more than 25 hours a week. The latter is the proposed designation for the Magnolia Community Center and what MCC president Diana Dearmin is fighting.
In her letter to the mayor, Dearmin writes:
“We understand that the Magnolia Community Center has not been credited for actual square footage used to conduct its regular scheduled programs when portions of Catharine Blaine School are used daily and that the absence of the actual square footage substantially penalizes Magnolia in the rating system. We therefore request that these inequities be corrected and that the Magnolia Community Center be re-assigned to Tier 2A if tiered service levels cannot be avoided.”
Dearmin added that one way to staunch the bleeding would be for DPR to collect the $500,000 annual reimbursement payment from Associated Recreation Council, the nonprofit that partners with DPR in the operation of paid programs at city community centers. She also wrote that the geographical nature of Magnolia makes it difficult for any Magnolian to get to another facility in another part of town, and that the mayor should consider that as another reason for maintaining hours at the center.
Right now the center is open 53 hours a week and if the budget passes as is, it would mean cutting hours to 25 a week. The center’s four full-time employees, a recreation attendant, a coordinator, assistant coordinator and custodian, would be let go, leaving a part-time recreation leader and three part-time intermittent recreation attendants. However, a full-time employee has the seniority to take hours from part-time employees and can technically keep his or her position.
“As a part-time recreation attendant, our jobs aren’t the ones going,” said Karen Czyzewski, who has been at the center since February of 2009, and who has already donated some hours to one co-worker who simply needed to pay her rent. “But those with senority can pick up and take away hours from part-time intermittent people.”
Last year, neighbors in Queen Anne wrote letters and were vocal about the proposed cuts at its community center, and the proposed cuts were reevaluated in its favor. Czyzewski has not read Dearmin’s letter but hopes it makes the mayor and city council think twice.
“I wish they could come and witness what happens here at the community center for a week,” she said while costumed Trick-or-Treaters thronged in the lobby. “To see it in person, I think it would make such a big difference. But I don’t know if [Dearmin's] letter will portray that.”