Goal is to save taxpayer money

In an effort to cut waste, Havelock is cutting operating hours at the Havelock Recreation Center and the Havelock Senior Center.

The city’s board of commissioners approved the plan after hearing a report from Travis Adams, director of parks and recreation.

The current hours at the recreation center building are 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday. Effective Aug. 29, new hours will be 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday.

Current hours at the senior center are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday. New hours will be 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

According to Adams, less than 3 percent of the overall users of the recreation facilities would be affected by the change.

Adams spent seven weeks counting the users and what times they came to the building.

“Most mornings and most nights you are looking at no to three people at the most,” City Manager Frank Bottorff said.

Havelock Mayor Will Lewis said operation of the centers for just a few people didn’t make sense financially.

“If we look at it from the efficiency of tax dollars for the citizens, it’s a lot of effort we put into having it open for seven people to show up during the entire week,” he said. “That’s not seven people every day. That’s seven people over seven days.”

Commissioners Peter Van Vliet agreed.

“There’s no point in staffing an empty building.”

The new hours would simplify staffing arrangements and alleviate overtime, according to city officials. A downside is that the new hours would eliminate the option for residents to work out before business hours and staffing would have to be adjust for any special events that occur outside the new operating hours.

Adams said the new hours would reduce staffing 26 hours each week at the recreation center and 20 hours per week at the senior center. The director said the senior center must stay open 40 hours per week to qualify for state funding.

Adams said the most use at the senior center happens between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., so most residents would not be affected. Adams arrangements would be made for groups such as the Disabled American Veterans, the Havelock Community Band and the Seniors Bunco players that use the senior center after hours.

In other business, commissioners directed public services director Mark Sayger to draft new language regarding the city’s policy on sewer lateral maintenance that more clearly specifies the responsibility of property owners in handling sewer blockages on private property. The new language will be presented at a future meeting.