ALPENA - The Alpena County Youth & Recreation Committee will have some difficult decisions to make when determining how to allocate about $450,000 in millage money for 2013. Forty-six application requests for funding for next year have been received, totaling $1.27 million. Now it is up to the committee to listen to presentations, study the proposals, and select the requests it deems are in line with taxpayers' expectations.
Committee Chairman Tony Suszek said there were so many applications filed that extra meetings have been scheduled to allow for the presentations.
"We added four meetings, and after the presentations are complete we can ask questions or request more information," Suszek said. "Then we will rank each of them, with 10 being the highest and zero the lowest, and average them out and compare them. There is really a lot to it, because we study each application several times, so we can be fair to all of the applicants who requested money."
The Alpena County Plaza Pool entered three requests totaling $349,280 for operations, the Make a Splash program, and for capital upgrades. Alpena Public Schools has seven requests, including money aimed for the AHS boys and girls soccer programs, as well as boys and girls basketball. Northern Lights Arena has three requests totaling $82,244 for indoor turf, new rental skates, and money to help fund the Ready, Set, Skate skating program.
Suszek said for 2012 projects there was $421,941 allocated toward 20 projects the committee selected. In 2011 there was $303,193 granted to 25 projects. Suszek said the number of requests continues to climb.
"The first year there was 35 requests, and then last year it dipped to 26. The 46 requests we got for next year is by the far the most we have gotten," Suszek said. "They are all very good, and we are going to have some tough decisions to make. We really have to be sure the money we distribute is for things the voters might have wanted when they voted for this. We have to make sure the money isn't just in the city or near town either. The millage is for the recreation for the entire county, even the communities that are on the outskirts of the county."
Suszek said because so many different organizations have submitted funding requests, it is important to be sure there are no "conflict of interest" concerns during the decision process.
"If someone on the committee is affiliated with one of the groups in any way, they won't be able to vote for it at all," Suszek said. "We have been put in charge of a great deal of taxpayers' money, and I think to this point the committee has done a great job with its selections, while being fair to everyone."
Steve Schulwitz can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5689.