We are writing to express our frustration over the recent decision of the St. Mary’s County legislative delegation to refuse to forward for state approval $15 million in bond authority for the construction of a YMCA in the county. After years of discussion, planning, and public input, the county commissioners entered into a formal agreement last year with the YMCA for the building of a YMCA, with the county agreeing to contribute that $15 million to the project. The project’s total cost is expected to be just over $22.1 million and all costs of operation will be assumed by the YMCA when construction is completed.
However, at the January 10, 2023 County Commissioners’ Business meeting it was revealed that the legislative delegation, specifically Delegate Matt Morgan and Delegate Todd Morgan, will not follow through with forwarding the county bond authority for the project, citing a desire for the YMCA to pursue state or federal funds instead. This action is in total opposition to the recommendations, and commitments made by the County Commissioners as Commissioner Colvin adamantly made clear at that meeting.
It is no secret that Del. Todd Morgan, as a County Commissioner, opposed the YMCA, even though the facility is proposed for the district he was supposed to represent, and abstained in the 4-0 vote to move forward in July of 2022. He stated “I still believe it should not be a taxpayer-funded project. I do think it’s quasi-disservice to our Recs and Parks staff to think that they’re not capable of doing projects such as this. But I know I’m going to be outvoted on this one.” Now he and Delegate Matt Morgan have indicated they would like the YMCA to pursue funding (albeit still taxpayer based) from the state or federal level rather than the County, despite an existing formal agreement with the County Commissioners that YMCA fundraising at those levels was contingent on the county making this $15M investment. This move by the legislative delegation, i.e., the Delegates Morgan, indicates either ignorance or lack of respect for the work the County Commissioners and citizens have already put in to negotiate with the YMCA and it adds unneeded risk to the substantial public fundraising still required.
As representatives, the legislative delegation should be helping to ensure that the County keeps its promises for the YMCA. This is what we all as citizens expect and deserve. Instead, they have chosen to get between the county, its citizens, and the YMCA, ignoring the wishes and interests of the community. The delegation needs to provide a clear and transparent explanation for their decision and take action to address the needs of the entire community, of whatever background, political stripe, age or whatever else for community building, recreational, and fitness activities, in particular and most urgently for our young people. We, the community, must hold the St. Mary’s County Legislative Delegation, especially Delegates Todd and Matt Morgan, to account.
St. Mary’s County Democratic Central Committee Julie Randall, Chair