C.A.R.D. director resigns, says district is set up for failure

News-DemocratMarch 6, 2014 

— The executive director of C.A.R.D. has resigned, three days after warning the board that the district's lower tax rate would make it impossible to run park operations.

Terry Wilson, 56, resigned Thursday in a letter to board President David Tanzyus, three days after publicly stating to the board that he needed direction from them in how to cut park operations to meet a lower tax rate.

"I firmly believe that the task of running this district would have been very difficult with the existing funding, but doable, and I was up to the challenge," he wrote. "With the added burden of losing funding due to the passage of the referendums, running the district in the manner in which I believe the citizens deserve, is impossible and sets the district up for failure."

Last year, voters approved tax cuts in three operating funds for the Collinsville Area Recreation District, entailing a cut of $224,000 a year. On Monday, Wilson told the board in a public meeting that despite laying off two-thirds of the district's staff, streamlining expenses and eliminating land purchases and the Miner's Theater, the budget could not stretch to cover all park operations.

That evening, the board agreed to shift some excess funds from bonds and interest into operations to jump-start the summer tournaments, which Tanzyus said he hoped would create enough revenue to keep the district going through the summer.

Wilson said he was hired to help the district become "functionally and financially healthy after two decades of mismanagement." But in his letter, Wilson said he no longer felt that goal was possible.

Wilson also wrote that he has been frustrated with the board, citing a "fundamental disconnect" between himself and the board in both management style and substance.

At Monday's meeting, Wilson had said he'd been asking the board for direction for months, and had not received it. He said the budget had been cut beyond the point where the parks could be maintained in the manner to which the public was accustomed.

"If you have a plan, I have yet to hear it," he said.

Tanzyus said the resignation came as a surprise, and was unfortunate. He said the board is still "finding its way."

"After many years of mismanagement, we are all left to clean the mess up," Tanzyus said. "It is a lonely and daunting task and I sympathize with Terry's frustration. I wish him the best and have no hard feelings."

Earlier Thursday, C.A.R.D. had announced that the activity center would be closed on weekends and will close at 5 p.m. on evenings when there are no scheduled classes. Previously the center was open from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturdays.

Wilson's resignation is effective immediately. The board will meet in executive session on Monday to discuss selecting an interim executive director.

Contact reporter Elizabeth Donald at edonald@bnd.com or 618-239-2507.

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