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City raises summer camp fees

Fees for the city of Dunkirk’s popular summer camps are going up, after a 3-2 vote of the Common Council last week.

The vote on and debate over the measure went along party lines. Democrats Natalie Luczkowiak and Nick Weiser voted “no” and were supported by Mayor Kate Wdowiasz. Council Republicans Nancy Nichols, Jim Stoyle and Abby Yerico provided the “aye” votes.

Fees for the camps are rising to $50 for one child of city residents and $40 for any of their additional kids. For non-residents it will be $60 for each first child and $45 for others.

“I personally am not for this,” Luczkowiak said. “We need to do some big things to get money… and charging for children… I think it’s going to hurt the working class, the single mother, the lower middle class.

Nichols said, “it’s long overdue. For what the students get for one week of this … that’s a steal and a half.”

Wdowiasz sought a breakdown of camp costs which she said she had not received yet. “Please table this so that we have the actual appropriate information in front of us,” she said.

Nichols replied she would be unable to attend the next council meeting and wouldn’t support tabling the fee hikes. Nichols stated she has wanted to raise rates for more than three years.

“This is something that has not been done in at least 25 years. It’s something that needs to be moving forward,” she said.

In subsequent comments to the OBSERVER, Nichols added, “We don’t want to give the city away. If you send one kid to camp at the current cost of $30 per kid, that’s $6 per day per kid (per week).” Registrants sign up on a week-by-week basis.

Nichols said counselors work with the kids and the tots get snacks, lunch, a free t-shirt which the kids can tie dye, and swimming. “They have interaction with other students and then come back into the city. That’s an eight hour day. Where can you find a babysitter for eight hours?”

For her part, Wdowiasz told the OBSERVER she might veto the fee hikes – but still wants to get that accurate breakdown of costs in order to decide for sure.

“The mayor is trying to micromanage too many small things,” declared Nichols.

The Fourth Ward councilperson said, “Summer camp is currently operating at a deficit. You’re trying to generate as much funds as you can to try and help the city out. Even if it’s just $50,000, it’s $50,000 we didn’t have before.”

When it came time to vote on the resolution Tuesday, there was confusion.

Council first voted to accept it on the agenda, which it had to do because the resolution was a walk-on. However, some members thought they passed the resolution itself.

Once that got sorted out, Luczkowiak and Weiser repeated Wdowiasz’s calls for more information on the effects of the fee hikes. Luczkowiak motioned to refer the matter to the council’s finance committee, which Weiser chairs. No one seconded her motion; as Councilmember-at-large, Weiser could not do so. Therefore, there was no vote on the motion.

Luczkowiak then motioned to table the resolution. There was no second on that, either. The final vote on the resolution, passing it, came immediately after.

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