YMCA talks continue at City Hall

Published 11:44 pm Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Selma City Council continued to discuss the city’s lodging fee and how much of it should go to the YMCA of Selma and Dallas County during Thursday’s work session.

The council’s administration committee, which includes Angela Benjamin, Greg Bjelke and Michael Johnson, is expected to make a recommendation to the entire council Tuesday.

The YMCA’s chairman Ray Thomas addressed the council, saying the lodging fee is essential to the Y’s future.

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“The loss of the money would put our operation in jeopardy,” Thomas said.

The Selma and Dallas County YMCA receives $1.50 of the $2 per room nightly fee. The remaining 50 cents has been set aside to restore the Brown YMCA.

Over the past three years, $295,221 has been raised to help the YMCA pay down debt and make capital improvements. There’s an additional $94,649 in the Brown YMCA fund, which hasn’t been touched.

Thomas told the council the YMCA still has $2 million in debt and asked the council to approve the contract at current funding for another three years.

“Our YMCA is among the best facilities in a community this size. It’s something to be proud of. It’s a selling point for the city,” Thomas said. “That building came at a very high price.”

Thomas told the council that several people who had pledged support for the building were ultimately unable to honor those due to the recession of 2008 and 2009.

“It was unfortunate timing that the capital campaign took place in the one or two year period before the great economic downturn since the Great Depression,” Thomas said. “People made good faith pledges, but could not pay.”

Thomas reported nationally most YMCAs get about 45 percent of their funding from membership dues. That number is 53 percent for the local Y.

The rest comes from grants, program fees and donations. The lodging tax is about 11 percent of the local YMCA’s revenue.

In making his case, Thomas reported that the YMCA’s membership is up and the Y is offering more programs than ever before. The branch has recently earned a grant to build an on-campus soccer field.

However, Benjamin said the contract was never intended to go beyond three years.

“We can’t bail out everybody,” Benjamin said.

The contract stipulates, “There is not anything in this contract that is to be construed to extend the life of said contractual agreement beyond three years.”

Benjamin also said that regular financial reports due from the YMCA were never turned in.

Thomas answered the YMCA will provide whatever reports the city wants about its finances now and going forward.

“There were a lot of things the Y board didn’t know,” Thomas said. “On my watch, those things won’t happen.”

The state of the Brown YMCA was also discussed again Thursday.

Kimesha Sunshine Alvarado addressed the council and said the Circle of Love nonprofit is interested in taking over the building.

Under the terms of the contract that expired Jan. 31, the YMCA could sell the Brown building to the city of Selma anytime for $1.

It’s not clear what will happen to that offer should the currently expired contract not be renewed.

Alvarado asked the council to not spend the $94,600 set aside for Brown renovations.

She asked for that money as well as future lodging fees to go to the Circle of Love for renovate the building as a recreational center for youth in the community.

She also asked the council to considered giving the Brown YMCA 75 percent of the lodging fee and the YMCA of Selma and Dallas County 25 percent.

She said the nonprofit would be willing to repair the buildings roof as a good faith effort ahead of a deed transfer.