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Proposed fee for clubs at Gwinnett parks angers seniors

LAWRENCEVILLE -- James Collins doesn't understand why property taxes aren't enough.

Why should he pay a yearly fee to enjoy the use of the Bethesda Senior Center, where he has played pool and hung out with friends for more than 20 years?

"If (commissioners) came up with a balanced budget, then why did they need more money from seniors?" Collins said.

A proposal for fees has angered and confused many seniors, who showed up in droves for a meeting earlier this week.

But Parks and Recreation Director Tina Fleming said county officials are reconsidering the user club fee approved along with Gwinnett's 2012 budget.

"This isn't just a senior fee. It's for a robotic club, a book club," Fleming said, pointing out that seniors were not targeted. Instead, the fee was proposed for clubs not a normal part of the parks department programing but which use the facilities. "It's not just a normal user, not a person who is just coming in and shooting pool."

After the $25 per person fee drew complaints, the system decided to step back and create a task force to explore the user fee.

"It's more about, we can't offer any additional program in that room because it's being utilized," she said.

For much of Gwinnett's community center programming, people pay fees -- the price of a Spanish class or other community school program, a $2 open-gym fee to play basketball or take a hydroaerobics class.

Others pay to rent the facility. but clubs have been getting access to a room on a regular basis for free.

Fleming said the fee would not have applied to senior clubs that are part of the programming at local centers, but independent bridge clubs and mah jong clubs, which have a lot of senior members, would have been impacted.

"It would make it more consistent," with other fees, she said. "That has to do with our need to add revenue."

The task force, which has 23 members from user groups throughout the county, was set to explore a fair way of implementing a revenue stream, since some clubs meet only a few times a year while others meet several times a week.

A meeting earlier this week was filled with about 75 people, mostly seniors, concerned about the idea, Collins said.

Fleming said their input could be received by this summer, and in the meantime officials are expecting to set aside the $7,000 that was expected in revenue this year.

"The maintenance, electricity and utility and the staff, that should come out of the budget," Collins said of using tax money instead of user fees. "We pay our property taxes."

Comments

Kent 2 years, 2 months ago

It is about time more user fees be placed on those who use the services. Too many people, including some seniors, seem to be a part of the gimmie generation who think others should pay for all their wants. I should be able to keep more of my earnings to provide for my wants, instead of theirs. The county commissioners have let all these "free" services get completely out of control, and far too many citizens are willing to take from others to get their "free stuff". Property taxes are my living biggest expense and I am fed up the "I want my free stuff" crowd.

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HonestIngine 2 years, 2 months ago

Hey, Kent, lighten up, one day you will be a senior...These seniors paved the way for you to be in a free country, to be able to get a job of your choice, to be educated in the school systems, while you were still in diapers. When you grow up, you might have a different opinion, but from your tone you have no respect for your elders, its a shame your parents raised you this way.

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Kent 2 years, 2 months ago

To begin with Mr Honestinge you must be clairvoyant if you know my age. There are elders who paved the way for me to go to college in this free country. I did not have a scholarship or loan but paid for my education the good old fashioned way--I worked my #$$ off. The socialist hippies of my day thought all their needs and wants should be paid for by those "lucky" wealthy people. Unfortunately, too many baby boomers still want all their goodies for free and the politicians are all too willing to accommodate to get votes. I really did not want to bring my parents into this, but since you mentioned them they instilled in me the attitude that I provide for my own needs and respect those who are deserving of that respect. You need to find out where the nearest "Occupy" protest is being held and march with your peers who are all for taxing others to get all the free stuff you want.

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HonestIngine 2 years, 2 months ago

Look , I am not in favor of the :occupy" protest as you suggest. What I am in favor of is a break for seniors, I am not a senior, I am closer to 50 than I am to 30, but that's another story....Like your self, I worked 2 jobs thru 4 years of university, graduated on time, own my own business, have 20+ employees. Seniors, are on fixed incomes, and as I see elders in our church, don't have the means for going out to dinner, or a show, ballgame like younger Americans. They find entertainment in halls with other people just like themselves, trying to make it thru rising living, food and medical costs. When you get there age you will understand..

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Kent 2 years, 2 months ago

Has it occurred to you I may be there. I do not even have CATV, because it is not a necessity. My wife and I make sacrifices and hard choices every day. It ticks me off greatly that my wife and I pay more in taxes than we spend on all living expenses. All the people, and that includes seniors, who expect others to give them "free services" need to get off that train and realize there ain't nothing free. If you see older people in your church who could use help with recreational expenses, have a special offering to help them. Don't advocate taking more from taxpayers like myself who need to keep their savings and investments to provide for their needs. Thank you for being a productive member of society, and I really mean that.

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R 2 years, 2 months ago

Just let your commissioners know they have built their last stadium for a while then.

Weren't funds from the recreation dept budget TRANSFERRED to its construction? Wonder if they have been paid back yet?

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news2me 2 years, 2 months ago

Every age group has to Pay to Play. I believe the youth associations in the parks are having to pay more now. Pay to Play even for the seniors unfortunately.

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BuzzG 2 years, 2 months ago

Sell the stadium that no one was allowed to vote on and the county can reduce our taxes and let the seniors have their room for free. While they are at it they can sell the county owned golf course and reduce our taxes even more and build another library. And while they are at it they can allow us to chose our own garbage collection service and the county can lay off a few bureaucrats. Things have not changed under Nash. She is very much part of the bureaucracy. Government still operates as though it is accountable to no one. It is time for a new election and more changes.

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Karl 2 years, 2 months ago

@ BuzzG-

We live in a representative democracy. We vote on people to represent us and make decisions in our stead. The citizenry as a whole can not, and should not, vote on every issue which comes up during the course of running a government. If you want change, elect different representatives who are more closely aligned with your viewpoint.

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Mack711 2 years, 2 months ago

Hold on Karl. We elected the officials to act on our behalf and none of them in the Bannister years listened to the citizens. The stadium was a 'closed' door deal and never was opened up to public input. As for the trash plan that was another back door plan that Connie Wiggins forced upon us using the BOC.Well Bannister is gone as well as Kennerly but the core ideas are still there. You are correct on the election. As for seniors most have paid for the centers and think it is a great place to go when you retire to meet with like folks. We owe them something, maybe a reduced rate or huge discount. When you retire you will be looking for a facility that you could use, hopefully it will be there for you.

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Karl 2 years, 2 months ago

@ Mack711

Thanks for your reply. You state that, "We elected officials to act on our behalf and none of them in the Bannister years listened to the citizens."

What you should have said is "...none of them voted the way I wanted them to vote."

Although some decisions made may differ from your desired outcome, it doesn't mean the BOC didn't listen to their constituency. The constituency has varying points of view regarding how certain issues are handled.

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Mack711 2 years, 2 months ago

Karl You are obviusly for more government in your life. Did the citizens get any input into the stadium? No. Did we get input to the shady land deals that brought down Bannister and Kenerly? No. That is my point. Let free enterprise take care of the garbage mess. Personally speaking do not care the first thing about that stadium one way or another. Most want Govenment out of our lives and let us, the citizen, chose who we want to do business with, not mandated by a few elected officials. When the public found out about this stadium mess that started the downfall of some elected officials and probably more than we do not know about. We have not had any children in school for over 15 years and still paying school tax. Why can we not assist our seniors who payed for us by using some tax funds to provide them a place to go for a few hours. Tha is the issue at hand.

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Veryconcernedcitizen 2 years, 2 months ago

If I have to pay $150 for my kid to play 10 games then Seniors should have to "pay to play" also. I am paying $15 per game so my kid can play an organized sport using a County facility. Everyone should have to pay! NO SENIOR CITIZEN DISCOUNTS!

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HonestIngine 2 years, 2 months ago

You are talking about 2 seperate things. First of all you have cost for your youth sports, referees, uniforms, field maintenance,insurance, equipment, etc. These senior centers are already built, and mostly vacant during the day.

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mickey 2 years, 2 months ago

So, was Tina Fleming brought in just like Aaron and Glenn to make all of the Commissioners thoughtless and self serving decisions. In most countries seniors are revered. Not here, let's take away their jobs and then suck them dry in their "Golden Years".

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Cleanupguy 2 years, 2 months ago

Looks like the "freeloader" label is only selectively applied - as in it doesn't apply to me if I want something that somebody else has paid for. Maybe a lawn chair on the front yard, yelling at kids to go away will make you happy.

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CD 2 years, 2 months ago

If I had things my way, there would be no taxpayer supported senior facility period. The fact is that everyone needs to understand that we have a choice of reduced services or higher taxes in a period of, at best, stagnant economic growth. Pay a minimal user fee or don't use the service. As our fine governor said, "we all have choices" when commenting on the new double-taxation scheme imposed upon Gwinnett in the form of HOT lanes.

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Linda 2 years, 2 months ago

I have been paying school taxes for FORTY years. I haven't had children in school for twenty-two years. I think I have paid more enough for my children's education. Anyone with children in school needs to think about it. Seniors in the US are looked at like lepers. What a SORRY bunch of children you are. As a senior I am disgusted at having to pay for the likes for you.

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news2me 2 years, 2 months ago

"Seniors in the US are looked at like lepers."

... because of attitudes and statements like this...

"What a SORRY bunch of children you are. As a senior I am disgusted at having to pay for the likes for you."

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Linda 2 years, 2 months ago

Wait until you're a senior

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news2me 2 years, 2 months ago

Mrs. Linda, Looking forward to it!

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MissDaisyCook 2 years, 2 months ago

I am a senior and take the discounts at Burger King or Long John Silvers. However, our age group is a whinning bunch of government entitlement addicts. And what is our claim to get these give-aways?: Simply, we have not died yet. So longevity is the key, regardless of how we lived our life or prepared for retirement. I know that is beyond the consideration of user fees; so "yes" fees should be charged in our current economic times. We seniors don't mind if county employees have to be furlouged or have shorter library hours or have fewer police on patrol as long as we get our goodies.

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news2me 2 years, 2 months ago

Thank you MissDaisy for speaking up. My wife and I are in our mid 40's and this is a conversation we all seem to be having about our parents and their generation. Many of our friends are having to help out their parents financially, and the attitude of "what about me and all I have done" is loud and clear. These are the same parents that told us in our early 20's to save-save-save because X Y & Z will not be around when we reach retirement, etc, etc. We have to bite our lips and hold back on the irony. I actually listened to and did what my parents suggested. How many others have done the same?

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nag6970 2 years, 2 months ago

The BOC and Gwinnett County will never propose a REDUCED budget EVER. They will tack on fees and increased tax's to keep every thing going. My property tax's increase yearly as the value of my home decreases and if I want move I'll loose the hard earned funds used to purchase. Wake up folks, young and old, you pay for it with tax's and they increase fee's ? Is there anyone who has not tightened their financial belt ? Yes there is, Gwinnett County.

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suedehead 2 years, 2 months ago

Have you tried appealling your property taxes? I took an afternoon, did the research and submitted my appeal. They were surprised at the amount of info I had supporting my value. I ended up having the value reduced from $260K to $210K. Got a nice refund from the county and the bank for the overpayment, plus it reduced my note.

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Watershed 2 years, 2 months ago

This is not a senior fee and it was very misleading for Camie to title the article as she did. It is a fee that will affect several groups ONE of which being seniors. Fees are being raised all over the nation as everyone tries to minimize the impact of the financial "crisis" we are in. I am an advocate of an educated opinion. Complaints about government waste, inefficiency and fund mismanagement do have their place. There is no doubt that Gwinnett has suffered from the greedy actions of a few in high positions. A reminder that those few were elected by some of the same citizenry that is crying "foul" now. It is my opinion that in recent years Gwinnett has fared better than most and been able to maintain the level of service offered because of better than average fiscal management in previous years. Unless you take the time to get the facts and perhaps gain an understanding of how Gwinnett's funding process works, your "opinions" while interesting, have little relevancy.

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