YMCA Not Deserving Charity

Sometimes it can be very unpopular to point out that the Emperor really is naked, or the sacred cow doesn’t pass the sniff test.

Yet, one of my favorite quotes was from Dr. Seuss and his new movie Lorax has been a huge success. He once wrote,  “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

Monday night kicked off the YMCA’s annual “Invest in Youth Campaign” which raises money that goes toward scholarships to help parents unable to pay full price for a YMCA membership, or help defray the costs of attending Camp Crosley.

The Muncie Family YMCA is a fitness facility which operates in downtown Muncie and has two facilities in the upper scale Northwest sections of Delaware County. Their only presence serving south Muncie was closed in December, 2010 when it gave the community 30 days notice before closing its doors. The Y operated the facility for 7 years and never upgraded one piece of equipment for its members.

Earlier in 2010, they opened a brand new facility in Yorktown after the taxpayers paid for brand new fitness equipment and leased it to them for $1.00. Why wasn’t this opened as a community center in one of Yorktown’s parks so all could attend for free?

Why would taxpayers sign such a preferential lease to benefit a few citizens? Several community members are asking those questions now. It sure was convenient for existing YMCA members who simply stopped traveling several miles away to the Northwest YMCA site.

Executive Committee member Andrew Dale was quoted in the StarPress, “When you think about it, the Y is a place of parity where all people should feel they’re welcomed, that have friends they can rely on. Whether they’re there for physical or spiritual health, there are others they can trust. We all gain from giving to this campaign.”

First of all, the community would gain if the YMCA started paying property taxes on their existing facilities. There is no difference between a YMCA and Cardinal Fitness.

Therefore, one should not be given preferential treatment over the other by being tax exempt. Why wouldn’t our community want to attract retail fitness facilities which would add to our tax base?

It’s hard to lure fitness businesses into Muncie when you have granted tax exemption to its largest competitor!

Furthermore, charitable donations are finite, so the public interest suffers when a YMCA that operates like a business competes with true charities for donations. In fact, it’s a double hit, because the public loses both tax revenue and vital charitable services.

This was made clear last year during their annual youth campaign when CEO Cathy Clark said, “We help Buley Center and Boys and Girls Club with this money.” We checked her claim, and the YMCA offered no such assistance.

Because of the economy, more parents take their kids to the park and let them exercise by playing. Wouldn’t the community be better served if the YMCA paid taxes that would help improve our park system?

Let those who can afford health club memberships pay for them.

Why should taxpayers subsidize this luxury?

If you want to make an impact on our under-served youth, give your money to the Boys and Girls Club, Ross or Buley Center, Big Brothers Big Sisters, or other such charities.

As we’ve stated before, the YMCA is not the same organization it was when founded in 1844. Times have changed and so has the Y – it’s time they started contributing their share toward our park system or other vital services needed in the community. The free ride is over.

Call your City Council representative and/or your County Commissioner – ask them why the YMCA isn’t paying their share.

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Todd Smekens

Journalist, consultant, publisher, and servant-leader with a passion for truth-seeking. Enjoy motorcycling, meditation, and spending quality time with my daughter and rescue hound. Spiritually-centered first and foremost. Lived in multiple states within the USA and frequent traveler to the mountains.
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