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Fees, membership costs to increase in rec district

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By Vicky Gits

The Evergreen Park and Recreation District is in a position to set aside money for the future as well as invest a projected $581,000 in physical improvements and surveys under the proposed $6.4 million budget for 2009.

The new budget also includes an average 7 percent increase in fees for programs and classes.

Daily admission rates for Wulf and Buchanan rec centers will increase 50 cents. Short- and long-term membership passes will increase an average of $9, a 10 percent boost.

Fee increases will generate about $183,000, including $84,000 from fee increases for facility memberships and admissions and $99,000 from fee increases for programs and classes.

Unlike a lot of other rec districts, Evergreen is in a position to make improvements, said John Skeel, park district executive director. For instance, the district is committed to spending $180,000 to expand the weight room at Wulf Rec Center in 2009.

The board is taking a conservative approach to spending in 2009, considering the declining economy and the district’s dependence on property tax, and setting aside some emergency money.

“Based on the property-value trends, we are really concerned about a property tax decrease,” Skeel said.

Since property values are assessed every two years, the budget for 2010 will be subject to 2009 property values, which the department projects likely to be about 6 percent lower than in 2008, the year on which property tax will based in 2010 to 2011.

The district held a public hearing on the draft 2009 budget on Tuesday, Nov. 18, at the Buchanan Rec Center. The budget will be approved in a final form before Dec. 15.

Some of the budget highlights:

• Total revenue is $6.4 million, consisting of $3.4 million in property taxes, $2.7 million in fees and $291,000 in government grants. There is a small increase in property tax of $34,000 based on a small amount of new construction in 2008.

• Payroll-related costs (wages, salaries, benefits, contract labor, payroll tax) for 36 full-time employees will be almost $3 million in 2009, an increase of 8 percent compared with 2008. (Four percent of the increase is related to an upgrade to the employee benefit package.)

• Over the last year, contract employees received 60 to 80 percent of the total class or program fees. Under a new policy, the standard split for contract employees, mainly class instructors, is targeted at 60 percent for current independent contractor argreements and all new independent contractors at 50 percent.

• The employee health care program has been upgraded to be more competitive and provide more coverage for out-of-pocket costs. Employees for the first time will be required to contribute 20 percent to their total health-care premium.

• Employees will receive a 3.8 percent cost-of-living increase under the terms of the district’s non-automatic, merit-based program, rewarding employees based on job performance.

• The district is projected to save $81,000 as a result of enrollment in a government insurance pool.

• The cash reserve is projected to stand at $650,000 at year end 2009 and includes $77,000 this year for replacement of the artificial turf at the Marshdale fields. Turf has an estimated life of 10 years.

• The district has set aside $85,000 in 2008 and 2009 to draw down in 2010 and 2011 in case of lower future property-tax revenues.

Park Ddstrict budget draft 2009

Projected Capital Improvement Projects

Priority A projects

Proposed 2009

BRC = Buchanan Rec Center

WRC = Wulf Rec Center

Alderfer exterior paint project, $35,000

Computer replacement, 15,000

District-wide master plan, 45,000

District-wide needs assessment, 44,000

General building maintenance, 61,415

Lake deck, 50,000

Lake House seal coat parking lot, 20,000

Lake House parking lot improvement, 15,000

Parks maintenance facility, 150,000

WRC new weight equipment, 25,000

WRC new pool filters, 22,000

WRC water replacement line, 17,900

WRC weight room addition, 180,000

WRC weight room equipment lease, 14,964

BRC Pool, $7,900

BRC Weight room equipment lease, 34,080

Total for priority A projects, $518,259

Alderfer

Exterior paint project, $35,000