The costs add up.
The city of Dunkirk has been running a summer program at Camp Gross since the 1990s, providing an outdoor experience for city children. This year, due to an inability to use funding from the federal Community Development Block Grant program, the city is having to make some budget adjustments to pay for the recently completed program.
Mayor Anthony J. Dolce recently told Common Council's Finance Committee about the shortfall and possible remedies.
OBSERVER Photo by Gib Snyder
Dunkirk Mayor Anthony J. Dolce provided information on the city’s summer camp program during a recent meeting of Common Council’s Finance Committee.
"It's costly and it's another one of those things that was never sectioned out in the budget, so it took a little time to figure out what our expenses are for summer camp. The good news is we raised more revenue than we have in years past," he explained. "We upped the fee a little. We raised it enough to cover the busing and the fee for the camp, which is just under $2,000. So we have enough there with a little left over. With the salaries what you'll see is a red line going under by a bit. The busing was $6,250, in years past when HUD money was used for busing.
"There is way we can use HUD money for camp but we felt with our current situation we weren't going to do that, plus, we wanted to limit the amount of programs we use HUD money for; we want to keep that around six, so we decided not to make camp part of our HUD funds.
"I think what we will do next year is we'll have a separate line for summer camp so we can keep track of it better."
Fourth Ward Councilwoman Stacy Szukala asked if the fees covered the cost of the busing and camp, but was told the program was still short.
Fiscal Affairs Officer Rich Halas explained there were still some $2,000 in fees for Camp Gross to be paid.
"We paid for the bus but there was nothing ever allocated for Camp Gross itself," Halas added. " ... You'll see when you go through our budget lines, rec department is hurting. What I was told was at the end of the year is if we have any excess we're going to try to offset all those shortfalls."
Dolce said the problem was the assumption paying for the busing would come from HUD money.
"That's $6,200 right there that we had to make up," he added.
A larger concern perhaps is the lack of an offsite backup system for the city's records. Work on the city's computer software systems led to the discovery.
"One part that we became aware of is we have no backup system at all in case a fire ever hits or if we lost one of our towers," Halas reported.
"Or if the building were destroyed," City Treasurer Mark Woods said, adding something is needed offsite. "We do have KVS backup as long as the backup system is working. The bigger concern would be if something, let's say the backup were to explode, we have nothing in house."
Woods said some information is stored at a local bank but that is as far as the city has gone. Although safes in the treasurer's and city clerk's office are fireproof, an offsite system would be better, Woods added.
"I would recommend it only because I've seen it where a stupid email comes through, someone opens up the email .. and all the information is lost. End of story," Halas stated. "When we were talking on a conference call with KVS, there was one municipality, they lost two years because they hadn't done it."
Halas added a backup and firewalls need to be in place.
"It's something you really should think about. You do have the funds available," Halas stated.
Woods said he was "wholeheartedly in agreement."
'It's a large amount of money but for the savings if we do have a problem, it's well worth spending that amount," Woods added.
Free backup systems were mentioned but were not deemed to be adequate for the city's needs.
Dolce said the city's technology capabilities were, in general, "not adequately budgeted for."
A resolution addressing the issue will be coming council's way.
First Ward Councilman Michael Michalski chairs the finance committee and was asked about the city's computer system.
"The fact that the city doesn't have any kind of computer backup, I just find that difficult as most work places have some kind of backup they do every night. I think that's something we have to look at and get in place, especially when you're talking about all these water bills and going to a computerized system," he replied. "We still have KVS but we still need to have that backed up. After 911 and some of the storms that came through you have to have something like that. The financial industry has to do it all the time."
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