An updated version of the Mechanicsburg Area Joint Recreation Agreement has moved closer to final approval, with two of the four participants signing off on a draft proposal after a year of talks between parties.
Mechanicsburg Area School District school board members ratified a draft of the Joint Recreation Agreement Sept. 8, followed by approval by the Upper Allen Township Commissioners on Sept. 16.
“We discussed updates to the old agreement and have incorporated the proposed changes into a new agreement,” said Greg Longwell, finance administrator for the Mechanicsburg Area School District. “The new agreement is being reviewed by the governing bodies of each of the member entities. It is my understanding that the Borough of Mechanicsburg and Borough of Shiremanstown will be reviewing the agreement at a future meeting.”
When ratified by all members, the agreement would continue a recreational partnership that began 50 years ago among the Mechanicsburg Area School District, Upper Allen Township and Mechanicsburg and Shiremanstown boroughs.
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Mechanicsburg Area Parks and Recreation offers recreational opportunities for the four municipalities that feature a total population of more than 23,000 people.
“We arrived at the new agreement through a constructive and positive process in which everyone worked together,” said Scott Fraser, Upper Allen’s assistant township manager. “The agreement has some cost-sharing provisions and gives us some additional say in eliminating underutilized programs.”
The draft agreement was presented to Mechanicsburg Borough Council on Sept. 15, but the board took no action on it then.
“I have not heard any comments (about the draft) at this time,” borough manager Roger Ciercierski said this week.
The draft is scheduled for further consideration by Mechanicsburg Borough Council on Oct. 6.
The agreement, as ratified so far, states that stakeholders will appoint a representative to a Joint Recreation Committee that will conduct quarterly meetings and provide feedback on new and existing programs, according to a news release from Upper Allen Township. The committee is expected to establish a yearly budgetary operating margin with a targeted rate between a determined “break-even” point and a 10% surplus.
The draft also maintains the program with the same level of municipal support that includes an annual adjustment based on the Act 1 index, an annual wage inflation index calculated by the state Department of Education. As under the previous recreation agreement, the school district will cover 75% of the costs, with the three participating municipalities splitting the remaining 25% based on population.
This year, Upper Allen budgeted $50,332.93 for this purpose and would contribute $51,642 next year under the new agreement, according to the township’s news release. Mechanicsburg would pay $25,014 next year and Shiremanstown would pay $4,035.
The proposed draft also says that Upper Allen, Shiremanstown and Mechanicsburg can also choose to participate in the sharing of profit/loss related to the operation of recreation programs. The Joint Recreation Committee can discontinue programs that fail to cover their costs within two years.
“We know how important the activities offered by the Mechanicsburg Area Parks & Recreation Department are to many of our residents. The new agreement ensures the program continues to meet the needs of our community,” Fraser said.
Longwell said the school district “appreciates the partnership we have with our municipalities. There is a shared interest in continuing our partnership which benefits the citizens of the community.”