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UPDATED: Mayor Says He Will Not Support Funding YouthNet

Youth enrichment organization may have to cut services, look for other means of funding.

 

The article has been updated with a comment from Township Committeeman Jerry Ryan.

Maplewood Mayor Victor DeLuca said at the Saturday budget hearings that he will not again vote for township funding to YouthNet.

Representatives from the non-profit, South Orange/Maplewood-based youth enrichment organization presented their accomplishments from 2012 and goals for 2013 before asking the township committee for a $15,000 contribution in the coming year. The request, the same amount as last year’s, would go towards funding YouthNet’s scholarship programs, after school programs and materials they use to seek larger-scale sponsorship. 

"I have no quarrel with the services that are being provided,” said DeLuca, who voted to establish YouthNet years ago, “but I do not think that the town should be funding [YouthNet] services instead of other programs. I will not be voting for YouthNet’s funding this year.”

One of YouthNet’s goals from the beginning was to become a financially self-sufficient organization, independent of township funding. YouthNet Board of Directors Chairman Dirk Olin told the township committee he expects the organization to be able to stand on its own by sometime in 2014. 

“There are times when YouthNet is not there,” said DeLuca. “During the hurricane, no one called me up and [asked], ‘How can YouthNet help?’” 

“I would rather give the money to our recreation department,” he added. “[YouthNet] is not where I want to make the allocation. I want to support youth, but I don’t know if this is the best way.” 

YouthNet Executive Director Diane Malloy told Patch that if they can’t get funding this year, they will have to drastically cut services, including scholarships and after school enrichment programs in order to secure private funding. Lack of funding from Maplewood will severely affect YouthNet’s path to self-sufficiency, she said. 

“The mayor makes a solid philosophical argument,” said Olin. “But the proof is in the clubs and the number [of students] YouthNet serves.” Olin said YouthNet serves approximately 950 students in the middle schools and at the high school.

The rest of the township committee voiced neither support nor opposition to the mayor’s stance Saturday. However, Committeeman Jerry Ryan added, “This is a conversation that has to continue. There may be a compromise before we determine where the majority [of the committee] stands.” 

Ryan told Patch in an email Monday that he is inclined to continue funding YouthNet, although he agrees with DeLuca about the need for the organization to improve its fundraising efforts.

"I do think that YouthNet has a revenue stream from fees and the capability of raising money from other sources to support subsidizing those that cannot afford the fees with scholarships," said Ryan. "I think it's fair to say that the members of the YouthNet board would agree with that statement, and that they share my disappointment with YouthNet's fundraising performance in the last calendar year: it was better than in prior years but still has a good way to go."

Ryan continued, "That said I think that the program is valuable and the monies subsidize users that would otherwise be unable to participate -- and it's those users that YouthNet was created to target in the first place."

YouthNet will discuss funding with the South Orange Board of Trustees on Monday, Feb. 11.

Other News 

The committee decided to begin the process of raising the daily parking rate at the NJ Transit lot from $3 to $5 per day.

Ryan, who is also chairman of the finance committee, made the suggestion, saying, “if you look at [the cost of running the NJ Transit lot], particularly the meter systems and enforcement, we’re not covering costs… that $3 [per day] has not changed in decades… We’re not paying people the same as we were 20 years ago.” 

The Springfield Avenue Partnership asked for approximately $13,000 for landscaping and marketing. They hope to add banners over the street to take advantage of the nearly 20,000 cars that travel it each day. They believe a large scale, highly visible marketing campaign will improve commerce and encourage business owners to get involved with the partnership. 

The Maplewood Village Alliance announced they will see 100 percent occupancy in the area by March. They requested a $29,200 contribution from the township. Alliance representatives said they are particularly concerned about how the turnover of the Post Office site in the village will impair business. In an effort to improve the identity of the village and connect their marketing efforts, the alliance wants to add banners to each of the lamp posts in the area. 

DeLuca suggested raising the township committee member salary from $3,920 per year to $5,000 per year. He said that with the rising cost of transportation, the committee often has had to reach into their own pockets to cover expenses. Ryan noted the committee salary has not changed in almost 20 years. 

The committee will discuss revenue and capital at their meeting Tuesday night. The budget must be introduced by March 19.

Morrisa da Silva February 04, 2013 at 03:14 PM
I disagree strongly with Mayor Deluca. YouthNet came in to being because the town had a problem with keeping students engaged afterschool. Does he remember the issues that the Library faced with a huge number of middle school students and insufficient supervision ? His litmus test of "What did Youthnet do during Sandy"? is a strawman argument. I will argue that Youthnet does more for this town then the current CCR does . Yet year after year we continue funding them. When will they be self sufficient? Why aren't you asking that of them? We need more afterschool programming and supportive services - something which our recreation department does not do for the town for our up until recently forgotten Middle School Students. Some of the most successful schools understand the importance of wrap-around programming and support and given the realities of our school funding organizations like youthnet fill important gaps. I urge current Township members to support funding for YouthNet.
Lee Navlen February 04, 2013 at 04:02 PM
So, this is payback? They weren't there to help the Mayor during the storm, so his response is to cut their funding? Did he seriously say that?
jimmy beard February 04, 2013 at 04:02 PM
I am very disappointed that our Mayor would not vote for Youthnet and vote to keep funding for the Community Coalition on Race. For half the amount of taxpayer funding the residents can help children in our community. Children who dont get involved with politics or try to mix race issues to help sway votes for elections such as the last BOE. The residents can fund Youthnet by not raising the salary of the TC. South Orange's Board of Trustees are volunteer, why not go that route? if that is the case then lets give a salary to the other volunteer groups as they have to drive to and from their place of "work" to help the town.
Lee Navlen February 04, 2013 at 04:08 PM
well at least the Mayor had the presence of mind to give himself a raise while blowing up Youthnet.
Lee Navlen February 04, 2013 at 04:12 PM
Check this out..Look what YouthNet does.. http://somayouthnet.org/Current_Programs_Events.html As a community, we must make it clear to this TC that a "compromise" as Mr. Ryan suggests is not acceptable. Fund YouthNet, keep the valuable program alive and well.
esiders February 04, 2013 at 05:02 PM
This is disappointing...my 6th grader attends the Youthnet after school program at MMS. It's been very beneficial in helping him transition from elementary to middle school. I especially like that there are teachers there four days a week to help out with homework.
Anne Jones February 04, 2013 at 05:10 PM
Color me confused. An after school enrichment program for middle school children is losing funding because they did not "reach out" during Superstorm Sandy? So, the Mayor was hoping that those middle school kids were going to do what? Shovel out his SUV? A good program that supports students at a critical time (old enough to be hanging out alone but too young to always make the right decisions with their time). I am sure this mayor will reconsider, right?
CJV February 04, 2013 at 07:40 PM
Vic is only one vote here. There is no reason the rest of the TC can't vote to fund Youth-Net. It doesn't have to be unanimous, as Mr. Ryan may be trying to obtain. The "compromise" can be for Vic to lose this one.
Max_W February 04, 2013 at 08:29 PM
I really think we need to leave the CCR out of this. Youthnet provides a valuable service that should be continued.
Lee Navlen February 04, 2013 at 09:17 PM
CJV, Well, I'm not sure Vic has ever lost a "compromise". Hopefully, it's a 4-1 vote with Marlon, Kathy and India taking the lead on the issue.
John Harvey February 04, 2013 at 10:27 PM
Lee, I agree. It amazes me that the Mayor makes decisions based on his personal opinions rather than for the benefit of the people he represents. When I read the following, I was amazed. YouthNet is staying true to it's purpose with a focused Mission, and his judging their work based on YN's failure to reach out to him during Hurricane Sandy is both self-serving and meaningless. Vic is showing the worst of political leadership in this situation. Does this mean Vic did not reach out to me after Sandy, nor no one from the town for that matter, so I should not support him? Absurd - John “There are times when YouthNet is not there,” said DeLuca. “During the hurricane, no one called me up and [asked], ‘How can YouthNet help?’” “I would rather give the money to our recreation department,” he added. “[YouthNet] is not where I want to make the allocation. I want to support youth, but I don’t know if this is the best way.”
John Harvey February 04, 2013 at 10:42 PM
Lee, did Vic actually vote to give himself a raise? if so, from what to what? Thanks - John
Lee Navlen February 04, 2013 at 11:35 PM
John, Well, I'm just going by the article. "DeLuca suggested raising the township committee member salary from $3,920 per year to $5,000 per year. He said that with the rising cost of transportation."
Lee Navlen February 05, 2013 at 12:38 AM
Mr. Ryan's updated about face is good news. Still, again what does Sandy have to do with the Mayor's reluctance to fund YouthNet?
Carolyn Maynard-Parisi (Editor) February 05, 2013 at 12:43 AM
Editor's note: I have reached out to Mayor DeLuca for further comment and will update the article accordingly.
Sheila Baker Gujral February 05, 2013 at 01:37 AM
The Sandy comment is indeed confusing. In particular, because I was very aware that while the township sent out advance emails about the storm, there were no emails between October 29th and November 15th. None. I got all of my updates about what was going on with power outages, etc., from Alex Torpey's facebook page. He was posting the work schedules for the power crews on a daily basis. I felt that the Township dropped the communication ball in a big way.
CJV February 05, 2013 at 11:51 AM
For Vic to feign caring about $15,000 after orchestrating the police station fiasco for more than $15,000,000 is a bit much, don't you think?.
Lee Navlen February 05, 2013 at 07:20 PM
Has the Mayor responded. Between here and that silly chat site, he is being raked over the coals. Regarding increased pay, former standout TC members including Ken Pettis have come out in favor. I myself, believe 4 of the current 5 members should get a raise based on the hours, etc. The 5th, not in a million years. I'll leave names out to protect the innocent.
Carolyn Maynard-Parisi (Editor) February 05, 2013 at 07:49 PM
I spoke to Mayor DeLuca and he declined to comment for now, but he said if he wanted to comment he would post here.
Lee Navlen February 05, 2013 at 08:40 PM
That's too bad. One might think two days of conversation on various web-sites regarding the Mayor's off the wall comment regarding the Hurricane would warrant a response. I guess we'll just have to guess what his thinking may have been. I'm thinking, he was using it as his Rudy/911 moment. Remember how every time Rudy said and did something asinine following the terror attacks he would remind people that he was a "hero" during the attacks? I guess the Mayor believes he was a hero following the storm so anything he wants he should get because of his actions then.
Elisabeth Anderson February 08, 2013 at 06:00 PM
I'm more and more convinced that the Mayor is clueless! So are some of his supporters. What can we expect from a l_____!
John Harvey February 13, 2013 at 08:21 PM
Vic, it is disappointing that you have decided not to comment on your words. Unfortunately, without any explanation they need to be taken at face value - which does not leave a a good impression of someone who claims to be a leader. Making your comments even more surprising was that YouthNet conducted a Sandy fundraiser which resulted in $650 in donations for the cause. I would be surprised if you were not aware of this, as one of your council members, Jerry Ryan is the liaison to YN. Any insight? Thanks - John

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