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Potsdam town and village board agree on recreation budget

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POTSDAM — The town and village boards agreed Thursday night to set aside $5,000 to hire someone to market Pine Street Arena to event organizers, hoping to bring in more revenue to a recreation budget stretched tight.

The Town Council and village Board of Trustees held a special meeting to discuss the recreation budget, which they split evenly. The budget is used to run and maintain Pine Street Arena, two public swimming areas and playgrounds.

The recreation budget is one of the most difficult parts of the budget-planning process for both boards because of a calendar differences. The town’s fiscal year begins Jan. 1, but the village’s does not start until June. This means the recreation budget needs to be put in place before the end of the calendar year, when the town finalizes its budget, but it does not take effect until the start of the summer.

This year’s discussion focused on how to raise revenue to help offset the budget, which has been a burden for the town and village for the past several years.

The coming year’s budget of $469,000 includes $147,000 in projected revenue, leaving approximately $321,000 for the town and the village to contribute.

The problem, according to council members and trustees, is that the village and town do not do enough to promote recreation facilities to event organizers who may be willing to rent them and contribute revenue.

“It’s almost like recreation is this red-headed stepchild that doesn’t get the attention it actually deserves,” said town board member Michael J. Zagrobelny.

The new spending plan includes $5,000 to hire a part-time marketer, whose main responsibility will be to persuade more people to use Pine Street Arena, especially during its slow summer months, when it is not being used for ice skating. Board members and trustees expressed their hope that the investment would quickly pay for itself as more groups began to use the arena for events like beer tastings or concerts.

The budget originally counted on over $4,000 in state aid to help break even, but this looks to be another austere year for the state. No state aid was given to the recreation program in last year, and it is probably not going to come back in the near future.

“We’re going to be lucky to get anything.” It is very, very unlikely that the state will support recreation for years to come,” said village Administrator David H. Fenton.

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