City approves takeover of YMCA

Published 12:49 am Tuesday, March 31, 2009

City council members have approved a takeover of the Greenville YMCA in order to avoid the possible closure of the longtime recreational facility.

The YMCA has struggled to pay its roughly $8,000 monthly loan installment, said Mayor Dexter McLendon. That loan, with approximately $900,000 still outstanding, was used to purchase the current facility on Academy Drive and make needed renovations and repairs.

“I think it was clear if we did not do this we would have had to shut down the YMCA,” said McLendon.

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But the city council also took measures to address that debt service Monday night, enacting a license tax of $1 per room, per day as an occupancy fee on hotels in the city. Rough estimates, said City Attorney Richard Hartley, indicate the monies generated by the tax would more than cover the YMCA’s monthly payment with remaining funds being reinvested in the facility.

McLendon said he believed the $1 license tax would generate at least $100,000 in additional funding, but that figure is dated. The city has added more hotels since he arrived at that number, he said.

“The good thing is this isn’t a tax on our local people,” he said. “It’s going to be money coming from travelers that stay in our hotels.”

The city also approved the formation of the YMCA Public Park and Recreation Board, but management of the operation will be turned back over to the Montgomery YMCA. The city’s YMCA split from Montgomery in 2005-06, but Montgomery YMCA President and CEO Bob McGaughey was on hand Monday to welcome Greenville back.

“We’re happy to be back in Greenville,” said McGaughey. “We’ll work together to get a management agreement and contract signed, ensure the building meets our criteria for safety and go from there.”

Greenville YMCA Director Amanda Phillips was equally supportive.

“I’m excited about working with Montgomery again,” she said.

McLendon said the city’s YMCA parted ways with Montgomery in hopes of becoming independent. But moving forward has been difficult, especially considering the debt service, he said.

Warren Matthews, Chairman of the YMCA Public Park and Recreation Board, said the move allows the YMCA to concentrate the majority of its efforts on growth.

“What this does, with the debt obligation met, is it allows us to focus more on growing our programs,” said Matthews.

Both Matthews and Phillips said membership is up at the YMCA, with at least 100 new families joining over last year.