YMCA, lodging fee vote will waitPublished 11:42pm Saturday, November 3, 2012
Four YMCA board members along with two members of the Selma City Administrative Committee met Friday at a special work session to further discuss the idea of imposing a lodging tax fee to stabilize the Selma-Dallas County YMCA, which is battling financial struggles
Following a discussion, the special committee said they are close to offering a recommendation to the Selma City Council in the next few weeks.
But, the idea for an additional lodging fee, two-thirds of which would go to the YMCA and the other third going to the city, has drawn others who want part of the revenue from the additional fee.
“I have been getting a lot of phone calls within the last two weeks,” councilmember Corey Bowie, who is chair of the council’s administrative committee. “Different agencies and people rallying for the Brown Y and another entity asking could the Boys and Girls Club get a third of the lodging tax revenue.”
He said that although different people have called the council with questions and have asked why their organization will not be supported with the fee, Corey said his main goal is to bring all the key-players involving the proposed fee to the table.
YMCA board member Ronnie Leet, and the other board members present, each answered why they think the YMCA needs the funding from the tax.
“We understand other organizations would have comments about what we are proposing,” Leet said. “Every non-profit charity should have the funding they need, but the YMCA is in a life threatening situation here. “
Leet added the YMCA has the ability to reach out to the entire community, young and old.
“I want all of the other organizations to know that the YMCA is offering a service to the hotels, by providing their employees and guests with fitness opportunities,” councilmember Susan Keith added to the discussion. “It’s not like the Y said, ‘Here is another place we can stick a tax.’ If you go to other cities they offer fitness rooms in hotels and this is a piece that is missing in our lodgings.”
Bowie said Saturday he hopes for the committee to meet with hotel owners and operators next week to get their input before making a voting recommendation to the full council.
While this additional fee — which would be $3 per room, per night on all Selma hotel rooms — would go to support the YMCA of Selma and partially, the city’s operating fund, it does not solve the current, more immediate funding concern for the YMCA.
As the Times-Journal has reported in the past few weeks, the YMCA has reached an agreement with two financial institutions, which hold two thirds of the YMCA’s debt, which would allow the YMCA to retire that debt quickly.
In the agreement, the YMCA would need to raise $1 million by Dec. 31. In exchange, the institutions would wipe away an additional $1 million in debt. Combined, this deal would eliminate two-thirds of the Y’s debt associated with the construction of the current YMCA.
To help raise the money by Dec. 31, the YMCA of Selma has launched a campaign — Why the Y?
For more information and to help with the campaign to raise the $1 million, the YMCA has created a website — www.ymcaofselma.org — where those wanting to contribute can do so through a secure connection using PayPal.
Those wanting to make contributions in person can do so by stopping by the Selma-Dallas County YMCA, located at 1 YMCA Drive, just off of Medical Center Parkway in Selma.
For more information, call the YMCA at 874-9622.