Mayor Diane Delaware and Ward 2 Alderman Dr. Jack Varner say it’s time for the city to cut ties with the county and establish its own parks and recreation program.
Ward 1 Alderman Ron Johnson said he doesn’t understand why the city would take on any additional expense when there are already problems that the city cannot afford to fix.
The debate surfaced during a report on the financial status of Parks and Recreation Monday.
During his report, Ardis Russell, who serves as the bookkeeper for the Parks and Recreation board, told city leaders that the parks board is currently crafting its budget for the upcoming fiscal year. He said that now would be a good time to offer suggestions.
Delaware said that her suggestion would be that the county stop contributing to the program.
“We should go to the county and tell them that we’ll take it off their hands,” Delaware said. “We appreciate the $57,000, and we know it’s a nuisance to them to have to provide that money. I’ll raise the $57,000 myself. Then we can start charging some user fees for folks who use our parks who don’t live in Yazoo City. That’s what we should do.”
Varner said he thinks the city could do a better job on its own.
“We need to junk the whole thing and do a city recreation program,” Varner said. “We used to have a good city program. We ran it, and there wasn’t anything wrong with it. We can do it now.”
Varner said with the bond issue on the Wardell Leach Recreational Complex paid off, the city can afford to invest in recreation.
“We’ve got plenty of money – we can do it,” Varner said.
“If the county doesn’t want it and doesn’t want to put any more money into it, I think it would be benevolence on our part to take it off their hands,” Delaware said.
Johnson said he thinks it’s foolish to consider taking on additional expense when there are more important issues.
“They do a lot of things,” Russell said. “They have to answer questions in relation to the audit. There are contracts that have to be drawn up.”
“What contracts,” Delaware asked.
“Things like the concession stand,” Russell responded.
“That changes from year to year,” Delaware asked.
“They review it every year,” Russell said.
“We’re hollering about we’ve got plenty of money, but we can’t fix our streets,” Johnson said.
“We’re never going to be able to fix our streets,” Delaware said. “There is not enough money for Yazoo City to be able to fix our streets by itself. This is a different subject.”
“It’s the same thing,” Johnson said. “I know you can’t fix them all, but you’re fixing to take on something else when we don’t have enough money to fix one street.”
“I just told you I would raise the $57,000,” Delaware said.
“That’s crap,” Johnson said. “Come on.”
“Nothing in this world is free,” Delaware said. “We need to take over the parks.”
Varner and Delaware said county residents can pay a user fee to use the city parks.
“If you want your children to participate, you can pay us a certain amount of dollars a month,” Varner said.
“The county has demonstrated to us in no uncertain terms that they don’t want to be bothered with parks and recreation,” Delaware said. “They don’t like it, and they don’t want to do it. It’s a nuisance to them.”
Ward 4 Alderman said the city needs to be careful what it asks for because the county might agree to stop contributing.
“We’re going to get a letter from (county board attorney) Jay Barbour saying, ‘OK take it over, we’re out of it,’” Brent said.
“I hope we do,” Varner said. “Let them send it on.”
“That would be fantastic,” Delaware said. “I’m looking forward to it.”