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Proposed budget cuts to impact Baltimore County recreation programs

Posted at 11:26 PM, May 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-23 08:19:22-04

"Addressing our existing needs and planning for the future requires some hard decisions. Decisions I don’t take lightly," said County Executive Johnny Olszewski at his first budget proposal for Baltimore County Council.

Thursday morning is the final vote.

One of the hard decisions Olszewski had to make was changes to the recreation program in the county. He proposed to transfer all recreational field preparation and maintenance from county employees to volunteers, something many coaches and parents aren't happy about.

Jim Campbell, the President of Carroll Manor Rec Council, said he's frustrated because he said this topic was not discussed with any of the rec council presidents. He stressed, council presidents just recently learned about this potential change. A change that will make things a little harder for coaches.

"Usually it's the coach if you don't get a volunteer parent. It's hard to get volunteers," said Bud Bowman, a coach and the President of the Bear Creek Rec Council. "It will add an extra hour to every coach's day beforehand, and then probably a half hour after you have to set the field and take it apart."

If they don't get volunteers, he said they'll most likely have to raise registration fees, something they haven't done in Bear Creek for seven years.

"A lot of parents aren’t going to be able to afford what they’ll have to pay to play," said Joyce Dantoni, who's grandson plays baseball. "If they go any higher, kids can't play, and that's not fair."

She's hoping kids won't have to leave the program.

"It gives the kids something to do. It teaches them sportsmanship, and it keeps them off the street. It seems like they just keep taking everything away that keeps them occupied instead of roaming the streets and getting in trouble," said Dantoni.

Bowman said he's doing everything they can to make sure this doesn't happen.

"We keep them on the ball field. Keep them off the streets. Keep them involved," said Bowman. "It's a dedication. It's a labor of love."

Baseball is just one of the sports impacted. These potential cuts will impact soccer and softball and even indoor dance.

Many of the other council members WMAR-2 News spoke with were not happy with this possibility and are concerned how they're going to make these changes work if voted on. The final vote is Thursday morning. County Executive Johnny Olszewski plans on addressed the public after the vote.