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2014 park district budget may include fee increases

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By Sandy Barnes

To increase revenues and offset projected losses for the Evergreen Park and Recreation District, fee increases for patrons are proposed in the second draft of the district’s 2014 budget.

According to a re-forecast of the park district budget, net income is anticipated to be $909,000 this year and $834,000 in 2014.

A projected $58,000 decrease in property-tax revenue is playing a role in income losses for the park district, along with an anticipated $60,000 increase in health insurance coverage for employees.

“We have worked to bring down areas of expenses,” Scott Robson, EPRD executive director, said during his presentation of a revised budget draft to board members at the Sept. 23 meeting.

To minimize the expense of health insurance for eligible employees, co-payment from the district could be reduced from 80 to 75 percent, Robson said. The adjustment would add approximately $370 a year to employees with single coverage and about $900 annually to those whose families are covered by district insurance.

“There are quite a few peers at 75/25,” said Robson, referring to other area park and rec districts.

Both the first and second drafts of the 2014 budget do not include merit raises for park district employees.

“This is the most difficult part of the budget,” said EPRD board member Peter Lindquist. “Anything you do affects employees.”

Robson said he also has worked with park district staff on a modest bump in fee schedules to increase revenues.

With upward adjustments to fees for Lake House facility rental, skating and boating, and increases for children’s programs and downward adjustments in other areas, additional revenue of $145,000 could be realized in 2014, according to the second draft of the budget.

During the discussion of the 2014 budget, board members discussed divergent revenues at Wulf and Buchanan recreation centers.

This year, overall revenue at Wulf was projected to increase by $25,000. At Buchanan, a $20,000 loss in revenue was anticipated in the 2013 budget.

In 2014, Wulf is expected to realize a 90 percent cost recovery, with an 85 percent cost recovery anticipated at Buchanan, according to Karen Messler, EPRD controller.

“Buchanan revenues have been down and down,” said Lindquist. “Why are we not able to drive more bodies into the door?”

“It’s reached a peak and has declined,” replied Ellen O’Connnor, EPRD recreation manager.

Sixty percent of the programming takes place at Wulf, and there is much more expense for lifeguards at Buchanan, said Messler.

The Silver Sneakers program for senior adults also has contributed to a loss of revenue at Buchanan, said O’Connor.

“If that’s not working for us, shouldn’t we look at it in a different way?” asked Doyle.

“You’ve got expenses going up and revenues are going down,” she remarked. “If you can, you have to decrease expenses.”

It would make sense to have a goal of increasing revenues at the two centers, said board member Kit Darrow.

Board member Mark Footer noted that the lion’s share of revenue for the park district is generated by the Lake Park, which is projected to see $936,000 in revenue and $539,000 in expenses in 2014.

Total revenue for the park district is projected at $5,636,000 in the first draft of the 2014 budget and at $5,780,000 in the second draft.

In 2014 the park district's combined mill rate is expected to be 7.372 mills, or a tax rate of $0.007372 for every $1 of assessed value. The annual property tax on a $300,000 house in the park district would be $176 in 2014.

The park district serves 23,000 residents and includes Evergreen Lake Park and the Buchanan and Wulf recreation centers.

 

Contact Sandy Barnes at sandy@evergreenco.com or call 303-350-1042.