Taxpayers getting a good soaking by Rec. Dept.

typewriter Hamtramck taxpayers deserve answers about how their money is being spent by the Hamtramck Recreation Department.

It’s outrageous that the department collects $1 million a year and spends half of it — $500,000 – on salaries and benefits. Good grief, a small city like Hamtramck should have a recreation program that costs NO MORE than half a million dollars a year.

What do we get for the money?

Looking at past audits, it doesn’t appear to be too much. It hasn’t been until the last year or so that the department went on a spending spree, buying playscapes and building a splash pad. The department offers some measly programs during the year and several subsidized field trips for kids and adults.

The splash pad is a particular example of the right intentions but the wrong decisions by management. In our opinion, taxpayers got soaked on this one. After spending $115,000 for a spit-sized slab of concrete, Recreation Director Craig Daniels limits the hours of use from 4:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. throughout the week – denying kids a chance to cool off during the day.

In other cities kids are allowed to use the pads throughout the day without the need of supervision. Daniels insists on having a lifeguard on duty, which is why there are extremely limited hours for use.

We asked a playground supervisor at Pulaski Park, where the pad is located, what kids can do to cool off and we were told that lawn sprinklers are available.

Why did the department even bother to build a splash pad if the only option for kids to cool off is to use sprinklers? The department could have saved taxpayers a boatload of money by just setting out several sprinklers for kids to run through.

It’s becoming increasingly clear that there is no oversight of the department. Daniels has reacted with hostility and an exaggerated sense of being picked on when School Boardmembers dare to question him.

He has snapped at us, saying he has no obligation to answer our questions. Someone needs to remind Daniels that he indeed owes answers to taxpayers and those who represent their best interests.

It all just makes you wonder what is going on over there.

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