Saturday, April 30, 2011


I recently acquired a membership fee rate schedule for the Aurora Community Center’s fitness program. It appeared odd to me that the Aurora taxpayers, who own the center, are being charged double the price of membership of the mayor, city council and city employees? The Aurora taxpayers are already paying these peoples salaries and benefits. Why should they have to take on the additional financial hardship of subsidizing a fitness club membership for them and their families in these trying economic times?

In a February 24, 2011 article by Chandra Mattingly in the Dearborn County Register, she records the approval of these fees by The City of Aurora City Council; “Aurora OK’s community center membership fees.”

The article reports that the proposed fee schedule was presented to the council by the Community Center Director, Danny Jefferson with the statement “I wanted to make it affordable for everyone”. If Jefferson was the actual author of the proposed rates, he then evidently believes the Aurora taxpayers (who own and paid for the facility) can “affordably” pay twice as much as those officials who are, coincidentally, responsible for his employment. This fee disparity is not trivial as the normal Aurora taxpayer will shell out $240 more a year for a family of four than the mayor, city councilmen

A courtesy discount for senior citizens and active duty military personnel, as well as a reasonable premium for those who don’t reside in Aurora and pay Aurora taxes is understandable. Somewhat of an argument can be made for reducing the city’s medical liability by promoting a healthier lifestyle for its employees, but there also has to be the consideration that a little taxpayer funded political patronage to the city employee base in an election year doesn’t harm the reelection chances.

But, how do the mayor and city councilmen justify this dip into the taxpayer’s pockets for their personal benefit? Councilman Mike Crider is reported as stating “I don’t see where elected officials need a cut” and Councilman John Borgman is mentioned as agreeing. Neither Mayor Donnie Hastings nor Councilman Fred Lester are quoted on the issue. Councilman Brett Fehrman stated he was “comfortable either way with their (elected officials) fees” and motioned for approval. Councilman Rick Orcutt seconded.*** Evidently everyone resolved any personal reservations and made peace with their conscience as the motion passed unanimously.

If you are an Aurora taxpayer you may want to consider if you’re as “comfortable” with this fee disparity as your mayor and city councilmen or deserve an explanation as to why they appear to consider themselves twice as deserving of the city’s privileges? You may want to consider demanding not only “affordable” but “equitable” fees for you and your family to utilize YOUR Aurora Community Center..

Chet Wolgamot
Manchester Township

*** Since initial publication, I have been informed by councilman Rick Orcutt that it was Fred Lester who offered the second to the motion and not him. My apologies for the error.


Anonymous said...

Is it true that aurora gave the building to the ymca and had to pay $100,000 to get it back? How much more can a taxpayer get taken for. I guess when you vote know the person you are voting for!

Anonymous said...

Dearborn County = Corruption (period)

Anonymous said...

Are the Aurora councilmen not listening to the people (taxpayers) of the nation? Government (national, state, county, and city) employees are employees like all you other non-government employees. The council should know better than to use your tax money to entitle government workers more than other residents (you) of the city. Aurora city residents - stand up and be heard! This is the only way you can stop this type of nonsense when elected officials don't represent you fairly - especially when they are using your money! Don't let elected officials keep thinking you aren't watching and don't care how they spend your money! Keep them representing you!

Anonymous said...

WOW! The City and South Dearborn School Corporation deeded the building to the YMCA so long as it stay in use as community building. But the Christian YMCA decided to sell it for a profit instead of returning it to the community. Now, that is real christian! The community did voice their opinion when the building closed and the city did listen to them. Do you want the building site turned into a gas station? Those are the group that had expressed interest in the land.