Candidates for Seat A on the North Peninsula Recreation Service Area Board sparred Wednesday over whether the board has been fiscally responsible enough.
"I believe the present board is misguided," said Dave Machado, who is challenging incumbent Pete Mysing in the upcoming election for the 3-year seat. "They're going in the wrong direction."
Machado said he believes the board's recent attempt to bring Nikiski Elementary School into the service area would have been a waste of money and not in line with keeping costs to taxpayers down.
"The people in this community can't afford such expansionism," Machado said.
Mysing countered Machado's claim by saying the original plan to use the school would have been within the service area's means because there was enough money available in the budget. In fact, Mysing said, the board only wanted to do the absolute fewest improvements needed in order to use the school for recreation purposes.
"We voted to do the bare minimum that would get us into that building," Mysing said.
When the price of steel for the project rose, he said, the project was put on the back burner because of fiscal concerns.
Both Machado and Mysing cited their experience as parents, saying they are strongly in favor of recreation opportunities for local youth.
"Without sports and recreation, I am not sure where (my children) would be right now," Machado said.
Mysing agreed, saying he believes the purpose of youth recreation is to keep kids from getting into trouble and give them a positive place to turn.
"I think we need additional things for these kids to do," he said.
However, Machado argued that the board needs to cut its costs to taxpayers by looking for private sources of funding where it's available.
"I think the service area can expand their services through private groups and raise money though private sources," he said.
Machado said he's the best candidate to do that because he has experience on private boards, having served as president of the Peninsula Oilers and as the recreation director for the local American Legion.
"What I want to bring to the board is conservatism," he said.
Mysing said he's a fiscal conservative and believes the board has acted in the best interests of the taxpayers. He pointed out that the mill rate may actually come down in the near future once the service area's fund balance is brought up to the level the borough requires. Currently, the fund balance is at around $800,000, about $200,000 short of what the borough requires.
"Once the fund balance is there, I expect your mill rate to go down," he said.
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