The Family Y will operate the Thomson-McDuffie Recreation Department for the next six months at no charge to provide programmatic leadership and to determine how the department might be better.
In a three to two split June 18, the McDuffie County Commission approved the Y taking over the management of Recreation Department at no cost to see how it effective it would be. At the end of the six months, if the management partnership is satisfactory, the county will pay the Y $5,000 a month under a contractual agreement to operate the Thomson-McDuffie Recreation Department.
“They are going to operate the Y for six months. This will save us money, provide us with advice and leadership free of charge,” said County Commission Chairman Charlie Newton. “The Y is going to evaluate programs, purchasing, and all other operations. They will give us advice on how we can be better,” he said. The county will also decide if it will fill the vacant administrators position during this time.
“When you take our excellent facilities and lay the Y’s programs and experience over it, our children will have a better experience in our recreation department program,” Newton said. “Our ultimate goal is for our children to have a great recreation experience.”
Commissioners Frederick Favors and Sammie Wilson Sr. spoke in opposition to the Y operating the city-county recreation department. During a roll call vote during the June 18 meeting, both voted no for the plan. Commissioners Gloria Thompson and Bill Jopling voted yes, and Chairman Newton broke the tie by voting yes.
“I am against outsourcing of this work from the government to a private entity,” Favors said. “There are things the government should be doing, and recreation is one of them,” he said.
Favors, who represents District 1, Seat A, said he does not see substantial economic savings on McDuffie continuing to operate the Recreation Department instead of the Y. “Understandably, the Y needs to make money and an increase in fees at the Recreation Department would eliminate participation in recreation activities by those already financially challenged.
“It is also my understanding that the Georgia Recreation Sports Association does not allow those recreation departments operated by the Y to participate in their programs and competitions,” he said.
Wilson, who represents District 1, Seat B, said he opposed the six month plan because he says the Y lacks expertise in recreation department activities. “They do not have the expertise in recreation department operations, and I think the operations need to remain governed by the city and county,” he said.
In a June 3 work session, Danny McConnell, president/ chief executive officer of the Family Y of Greater Augusta and James Thomas, district vice president at The Family Y of Greater Augusta, sat down with the county commission and spoke on how the Y could manage the Recreation Department for the next six months. That would include facilitating the registration process, training coaches, ordering uniforms, and bringing event options to the facility. They also advocated for outreach into the community to bring in more youth and foster a more positive environment.
According to County Manager David Crawly, the current recreation department staff would remain in their positions and would remain county employees.
The county commission also:
•Approved a mutual aid agreement with the City of Harlem for Fire Services;
•Approved various documents and resolutions related to CHIP, the housing rehabilitation program;
•Approved a $138,900 grant for the Toombs Judicial Circuit’s adult felony drug court, effective July 1.
•Approved a lease agreement with the Department of Family and Children’s Services for the building at 307 Greenway St., and agreed to begin making repairs and making improvements to the building by Dec. 1