Hospital Board funds LRA $13,500

By Carolyn Barbre

At the April 27 Lindsay District Hospital Board meeting the board unanimously approved giving $13,500 to the Lindsay Recreational Authority which LRA member Ed Murray said would be used mainly for training lifeguards and also for insurance.

He said money from the board has to be used for medical and health related costs.

"Even with that, we'll be dipping into reserves. One of the biggest expenses is the swimming pool." He said without the money from the hospital board, they were considering not even opening the pool for the summer.

Murray lamented the fact that insurance costs eat up much of the recreation authority's budget. Each fiscal year the city has been contributing $22,500 as has the school district. He said this year they have been asked to increase their support by $8,000.

"Every league player costs $12 to $15 so with 80 or 90 kids you're looking at $1,000 to $1,500 in insurance." Murray said another big hit is from workers' comp insurance. He said they are considering going uninsured as is being done in the City of Exeter, or some sort of self-insurance like they have for city workers. He noted that the high school offers insurance for each sport, and people can buy that insurance for minimal costs, or they could have parents sign a waiver if they want their children to be involved in LRA sports activities.

"We want to be sure we can provide good quality sports programs, but the insurance has just been eating us up." Murray said the basketball program insurance runs $2,000 to $2,500. "That's a lot. How often do you have an injury - almost never, but we can't take a chance." He said the recreation authority is looking in all different directions to reduce costs.

Rich Rodriguez, who heads up the recreation program, said the money would also go for emergency equipment like backboards in the pool and first aid equipment. And it will also go for any type of safety equipment for the sports leagues, but Rodriguez agreed that the big thing is insurance.

"Usually half of what we bring in, what the kids pay, goes out in insurance." He said the summer youth program including softball, baseball and teeball will each have eight teams, for a total of 24 teams that must be insured at a cost of between $105 and $130.

"So that's near $3,000 we pay out in insurance." He echoed Murray's suggestions about bringing down costs for next year. "But for this year, we're kind of stuck with the system we have in place."

The board also unanimously approved funding $20,000 toward the salary and benefits of a licensed vocational nurse for the Lindsay Unified School District in response to a letter of request fromm Superintendent Janet Kleigl. The hospital board has honored this request for several years now.

City Manager Scot Townsend attended the meeting along with Eric McConnaughey of EBM Design Group, which designed the Wellness Center. Board members got to see some of the computer animation which took them on a tour of the 60,000 square foot project. They were told the ground breaking date is the first quarter of 2005.

Townsend is looking for more money from the California Endowment. He said Lindsay is one of 103 model cities they are looking at and the city that meets their specifications will be getting $5 million. The city wlll also be meeting with the Tiger Woods Foundation in June.

There will be a final discussion on the Wellness Center plans at the May Health Care Advisory Committee meeting. HCAC meets at 4:30 p.m. on the third Thursday of the month in the conference room at Lindsay City Hall.

The Lindsay District Hospital Board meets at 4 p.m. on the fourth Tuesday of the month in the conference room at Sierra Vista Plaza.

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