Village officials seek to share responsibility of pick-up sports

B y Jaime Thomas

Insurance — it’s the tricky little monkey wrench that gets in the way of so many otherwise easy processes.

As the organizers of yet another extracurricular sport slated to take place at Granville High School recently requested insurance coverage from the village, there was some dissent among members of the board.

“The village is not an insuring agency; it’s not a village function or responsibility to insure private groups for various activities with taxpayer money,” said Frank Caruso, a village board trustee.

While a rider add-on to the village’s blanket insurance policy for these events wouldn’t actually cost anything, Caruso worries it is not a responsible risk to take with taxpayer money. He said there haven’t been any problems so far, but he wonders if coverage for a serious accident would fall on tax payers.

However, at a December meeting, Village Attorney Michael Martin said providing coverage for the community would not make the village liable. Mayor Brian LaRose said it’s not much of an issue, rather a question members of the board have confusion about and need to explore.

“I don’t feel okay with our budget going to private organizations; we should be using taxpayer money only for village business,” Caruso said.

Trustee Paul Labas agrees with Caruso, but said the village approves posting insurance for these groups because it wants to support the programs.

“I’d hate to see tax payers picking this up, but it is for the good of the community. It’s a fine line,” Labas said. I’m in total support of the activities, but in the future I’d like to see the school and the village work together on this.”

Caruso, too, thinks it would be logical for these activities to be on school insurance as they are held at the school.

The district’s business manager, Cathy Somich, said the school does not insure these people because they’re not scholastic events and don’t include district employees.

“We’re not affiliated with them — they’re their own entity,” Somich said. She mentioned that taxpayer money and the school do already float electric, heating and lighting costs in order to stay open for the sports or groups that meet there. “We shouldn’t be on the hook for opening our doors.”

Somich said the district’s insurance company has long required it to ask any outside groups for an insurance certificate in order to use school space.

LaRose said the board will continue to support all of these programs and believes it’s important for them to do so.

“By supplying an insurance certificate, it allows that group to move forward with their program,” he said.

While Caruso plans to continue to vote against these insurance requests, he said he respects that the board votes to accept them.

“I don’t question that it’s beneficial to these groups and the community,” he said, “It’s not a bone of contention.”

Board members are looking into communicating with the school about the matter, LaRose said, but he stands by supporting the activities.

“We’ve never had any issues, and we’ve been doing this a long, long time,” he said.

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