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Spagnola provides more Recreation Department data

Two weeks ago, Controller Matthew Agresta produced a large amount of information at the request of Alderwoman Diane Hatzenbuhler that broke down utility expenses on each city park for the past five years, as well as details on every expense the department paid for the past 4 years. After that, Hatzenbuhler requested further information as to the breakdown of donations revenue received for each park. At last Tuesday’s Common Council meeting, Recreation Department Director Rob Spagnola provided an estimated summary of the donations and grants that have been issued to his department for the various parks in the past ten years.

According to the report, Shuttleworth Park has received $900,000 for projects such as “Restrooms, decks, dugouts, fences, brick walls, seats, concession, turf, warm hut, sound system, ripped apart infield, walking trail, tennis courts.” Riverlink park has received $300,000 for items such as “Remodeled entire cafe, all new kitchen appliances, large deck, canopy with sides, banquet tent, bandshell, steel frame docks.” Veteran’s Field and Isabel’s Field have both received $100,000 each for various improvements.

Spagnola said that all donations that are received by the city must be applied to a line in the budget, which can only be done by a resolution by the Common Council.

Referring to emails exchanged between himself and Hatzenbuhler during the past week, Spagnola said “Everything has always been done 100% the proper way. I cannot break it down, like I was requested to do this week, into minute items… as far as ice cream, hot dogs, t-shirts…”

Spagnola said some of the other requests for information from Hatzenbuhler regarding how his maintenance workers spend their time are not available.

In regards to his maintenance workers, Spagnola said, “I do not keep a daily log of their daily activities. I go in at seven o’clock, assign them their work and they go and do it. The difference is with the [Department of Public Works], they can furnish reports to the council or to whoever, they probably have six foreman (I don’t know what the exact number is…) and that’s their job is to keep track of the work they do throughout the day. We do the same work everyday. If you want to furnish a foreman for each crew that we have that we send out, I’ll gladly have them report up to me at the end of the day, I’ll compile at the end of the week and send you a report.”

“We basically do the same thing. I send them out everyday to cut grass, I send them out everyday to get garbage, I send them out everyday to do the softball fields, I send them out everyday to water flowers. We clean the toilets and we basically do work in the park.”

“I could be wrong, but I doubt the the golf course sends in a report that they cut grass everyday…or what greens they cut that day…”

Spagnola suggested that while detailed records of vegetation removal work are kept, that he didn’t think the limited range of regular work at the parks warranted detailed documentation.

Spagnola also said that he talked with Controller Agresta about the idea of breaking down department expenses by park in future budgets, but said that Agresta didn’t think it would be useful because costs at each park vary widely year to year.

In regards to Hatzenbuhler’s questioning of utilities, Spagnola said, “I don’t know if your intention is to bill the leagues that are using the [parks], if you want bill the little league for the lights, if that’s what your questions were regarding. Do you want to bill the girl’s softball league? I know I can speak for the Recreation Commission and myself…we will fight that because I think that would be outlandish.”

Alderman Ed Russo said, “I think you did a great job, I think you explained everything to me, that I wanted to know. I don’t think there’s anything you missed.”

Hatzenbuhler said “I’m sorry you couldn’t have provided this sooner, and we wouldn’t have been going through this, because this is excellent. Thank you very much and I really appreciate it.”

Alderwoman Valerie Beakman added, “I’m sorry we had to put you through this foolishness. But you came through. And I thank you for everything you are doing for the city and everything you are going to continue to do for our youth and our community.”

About Tim Becker

Tim Becker is the owner of AnthemWebsites.com LLC which publishes The Compass. He serves as both editor and a writer.

4 Responses to Spagnola provides more Recreation Department data

  1. rogo says:

    Are there all receipts for all grant money?? Also what is total rec budget not just what rob says he has control over?? Also , according to state records cultural and recreation expenditures for recently closed 2012 fiscal year total $1,661,615, where are these expenses??

    • Tim Becker says:

      Rogo, what specifically do you think the Rec Dept is hiding? It baffles me that even now that the department has essentially been turned inside out, there are still those who seem to imply that there is something wrong going on. But no one seems to have the guts to come out and make a firm accusation. It seems to me to be just a bunch of political interference.

      I don’t see your 1.6 million figure. I don’t claim to understand the AUD fully, but I see figures around 400K or so. Are you looking at the new revised version? If so, what page do you see that on?

      I am not sure whether that particular category is completely made up of just the rec dept expenses or if other expenses are also included.

      The other thing to remember is that each time the rec dept received a grant or donation, that amount increases the dept’s budget. The common council has to approve that each time (that’s where the accountability is). Those donations and grants essentially expand the rec dept’s budget beyond the base amount that was approved by the council at the beginning of the fiscal year.

      • rogo says:

        Go openbooknewyork.com
        click local government spending
        check rev/exp and also trends submit
        city/amsterdam/2012/submit

        under expenditures rec and cultural there is 1.6 million, I’m sure this includes 500,000 golf budget where is rest??

      • Tim Becker says:

        I see it, but it doesn’t match up with the new updated AUD. Actually I found quite a number of lines that don’t match. So it could be that the numbers haven’t been updated yet, or that each report categorizes expenses in different ways. I really don’t know for sure. But again, I ask what do you think the Rec Dept. is hiding?