City wants to offer more recreation programming; school resource officer agreement approved

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Spencer City Council Chambers sign

A reorganized Spencer Parks and Recreation Department in the future will offer programs and activities to encourage more use of city parks.

The city council discussed the focus while approving a job description for the new position of recreation director and updated descriptions for current positions of golf superintendent and school resource officer.

City Manager Amanda Mack said the opportunity to make the changes was created by the approaching retirement of Parks and Recreation Director Delray Bredehoeft.

The changes were discussed at last week’s committee of the whole meeting.

“We really wanted to put an emphasis on recreational programming,” Mack said. “As we move through our master park planning process after July, I believe, and I think this has been a pretty conversation throughout the community, that programming will become a more important aspect of our parks and recreation department.”

As part of the changes, Bredehoeft’s position title will be eliminated once he retires in a couple of months.

Parks, golf, cemetary and forestry operations would fall under the new recreation director title. The recreation director would oversee golf course day-to-day operations staff, parks department staff and cemetary staff.

The golf superintendent will be responsible maintenance at the course. That position will report to the director.

The new director will be responsible for establishing program options that the community can enjoy.

“Right now, programming that’s offered throughout the community is done through the YMCA – sometimes we support that in a financial manner – or it’s done through the private sector,” Mack said.

Mack said the city’s abundance of parks and parkland was emphasized during the city’s economic development strategic planning.

“Now our goal is to make sure they are maintained in the most appropriate manner and that we’re getting people into those recreational facilities,” she said.

Ward 3 Councilman Steve Bomgaars said he liked the added programming responsibilities for the recreation director.

“As long as I’ve been a resident of Spencer, which is most of my life, the community, as you said, it really hasn’t done a lot with regard to recreation,” Bomgaars said to Mack. “It’s all been on the back of the Y. And I look forward to recreational programming, seeing what the city can do. I think if we look at the example of the library, my goodness, we have programming that is par excellance at the library. So I think we can do the same thing with parks and recreation.”

Only the job description for the titles were approved. No salaries or other information was presented or discussed by the council.

The council voted 5-0 on the matter. Both Ward 1 Councilman Tom Nelson and Councilman At Large Rich Prentice were absent.

School resource officer agreement with school district approved

The council also voted 5-0 to update the school resource officer job description and approve an agreement with the Spencer Community School District that includes the district paying 70% of the full-time position’s cost to the city.

The job description combines D.A.R.E. drug use prevention programming and school resource officer responsibilies. Those positions are currently divided into separate part-time positions.

“That officer will be in all of the buildings throughout the day, be responsible for the D.A.R.E. program and then, during the summer months and school break, he would fill in with our regular officers,” Mack said.

That position’s cost to the city could total about $13,000 and would also come with increases in contributions for group health insurance, pension and other benefits, according to an agenda item.

The document states those expenses will be covered by reserve funds and then added to the property tax levy during the next budget cycle.

“I think this is long overdue,” Bomgaars said. “I know that a lot of communities our size do not have a full-time SRO, but we live in a changing world. And, to me, it’s unfortunate that we have to even discuss this, but I think it’s a necessity. I think it’s just something we need to do and I think it will be a great resource for our school.”

Mayor Kevin Robinson thanked the school district, including superintendent Terry Hemann and the school board, for working with the city on the agreement.

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