The cities of Rochester and Rochester Hills on Monday, September 25, approved $2.8 million in budget expenditures for the Rochester Avon Recreation Authority (RARA) for its 2018 budget.
The expenditures are part of RARA's overall budget, which receives about 22 percent, or $633,510 of its total revenues, from the city of Rochester Hills, and about three percent, or $88,000, from the city of Rochester. The largest portion, 66 percent, of RARA's revenues come from program fees charged by the authority, which are projected to amount to about $1.8 million in 2018. Rental fees, interest and other miscellaneous revenues make up the remaining portion of RARA's budget.
While the recreation authority's board approves its own budget, it must receive approval from the cities of both Rochester and Rochester Hills.
Ron Jewell, executive director of RARA, said the organization's board adopted its 2018 budget at an August 1 meeting. He said the budget reflects a balance between anticipated program revenues and municipal contributions versus building and program expenditures.
The budget also represents the first full year of anticipated revenues and expenditures after the purchase and development of RARA's newly acquired building at 480 E. Second Street in Rochester. The building includes two multi-sport gyms, a fitness area and a group multi-purpose room. It's also the fifth year in the organization's main headquarters, equipped with four large dance rooms, two multi-turf fields, gymnastics areas, an early childhood room and multi-purpose room.
The 2018 budget includes 10 full-time employees that oversee program and building needs, as well as the addition of a second maintenance advisor and replacing its dance coordinator, who recently retired. The budget includes a two percent salary increase for its full time employees.
Both Rochester and Rochester Hills city councils questioned Jewell about salary increases, which he defended and referenced an ongoing salary and compensation study as justification for the increases.
Both councils also questioned the proposed lease of a space in RARA's new building to a physical therapy provider, and whether it fit within the scope of RARA's vision.
"We have had pushback from Rochester businesses that say they feel it’s competition, and it’s not clean recreation," Rochester councilman Jeffrey Cuthbertson said.
The comment echoed similar questions from Rochester Hills city council members in September, who said such a business has a built-in advantage strictly by the nature of its location.
Jewell said the proposed lease is competitive for the market, and would provide information to the councils to illustrate that the lease is appropriate.
The office lease will still be required to be approved by the Rochester Planning Commission, which is scheduled for consideration in October.
In addition, both Rochester and Rochester Hills councils in September approved a $4.2 million budget adopted by the Rochester Older Person's Commission (OPC), which also receives funding from both cities. That organization's budget includes a 1.7-percent increase from its 2017 budget.
The OPC budget was approved by Rochester on Monday, September 11, and by the Rochester Hills council on Monday, September 25.