The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

December 10, 2013

Rec board to forgo allocations

Randy Griffith
rgriffith@tribdem.com

JOHNSTOWN — Westmont Hilltop Recreation Commission can continue to operate and thrive without Southmont Borough’s money, its director said.

In fact, the intergovernmental commission has agreed not to take any of its member communities’ allocations for 2014, commission member and Westmont Borough Councilman Lee Williamson said at Tuesday’s Borough Council meeting.

“The commission is willing to suspend all financial requests for operations in 2014,” Williamson said.

The commission voted last week to forgo allocations from Southmont and Westmont boroughs, Upper Yoder Township and Westmont Hilltop School District. The four entities share responsibility for the recreation commission and are co-owners of The Ridge recreation facility off Route 271 in Upper Yoder.

Southmont Borough Council has taken action to end its support of the recreation commission Dec. 31 and asked the remaining commission partners to discuss selling The Ridge.

It is unclear if the commission’s offer will convince Southmont’s leaders to reconsider, Westmont council President Don Hall II said, mentioning a letter Southmont council President Edward Danyluk wrote in response to Upper Yoder’s request for a meeting to address commission issues.

“Southmont has discussed this issue thoroughly for seven months now and continued discussions of the same is simply forcing an issue that is already closed,” Danyluk said.

But Southmont won’t be off the hook entirely, commission Director Fran Lustig Sivi said Tuesday at Westmont’s meeting. The commission voted to bill each of the four owners for maintenance and utility costs at The Ridge, estimated at $10,000 for each entity.

“Revenue from The Ridge will still be coming to the commission,” Sivi said. “It’s a gamble, but it’s a gamble we are willing to take.”

The commission has about $150,000 in reserve funds to start the year and has been operating its programs in the black for several years, she added.

“This was a board decision,” she said. “It was a well-discussed board decision.”

Southmont voted to withdraw support from the commission after it received no response to its request for an audit of the commission’s 2012 books. The commission later reconsidered and authorized an audit, which starts today, Sivi said.



Randy Griffith covers Westmont for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/photogriffer57.