Park board hopes joint meeting will result in additional funding

Posted February 1, 2017 at 9:57 am

The Recreation Park Board is currently wading through some difficult financial times, but will try to “hang on” over the next few months as help may be on the way for local entities that fund the board in its work of operating and maintaining Mountain View Park.

The park usually struggles a bit more during late fall and winter months when there is less activity at the park and no option for fundraising, but in the past year or so, the higher costs of utilities, equipment maintenance and other costs have caught up.

The park requested and was granted a meeting last week with Clinton County Judge/Executive Richard Armstrong, as well as Albany Mayor Nicky Smith, who came to the meeting to discuss the dire financial situation facing the park board.

Seven park board members and Clinton County Finance Officer Tuesday Davis and city councilwoman Tonya Thrasher was also present at the meeting in the judge/executive’s conference room on Tuesday morning, January 24.

Park board secretary Paula Little and treasurer Gina Poore presented the park board’s case, as well as showing the board’s total expenses and reviewed it’s financial status.

Other than a limited amount of fundraisers the board can take on, the only source of operating revenue comes from the county and City of Albany at $10,000 each, plus the like amount from the school board, whose contribution goes to help fund Park Director Bobby Reneau’s annual salary.

The information provided showed that the 2016 total expenses for the park was some $29,503. Of that total, utilities alone (electric and water) was approximately $14,000 or almost half the total expenditures.

The remaining was the park director’s salary, park supplies and cost of maintaining the buildings and grounds at the park.

In 2015, the total park expenditures was $28,657.00.

A key major problem over the years, it was noted by most present, that while expenses and costs of about everything had risen, especially utilities and equipment, the amount donated by each supporting entity had not gone up for more than 15 years, as the input of $10,000 per entity has remained with no increase.

Board members also presented the judge and mayor with the operating costs of area parks, as well as local government assistance each receives–and the numbers compared to the amount Mountain View Park has to operate on is somewhat eye-opening.

Some examples, in Adair County, the park is jointly maintained by the city and county, with a total operating budget of $72,000. Of that total, $50,000, or $25,000 each annually, is taken care of by the city with the remaining $22,000 generated by the park.

The park in Burkesville, which is maintained by the county, has an operating budget of $99,063. The park in Monroe County, operated by the county, has an operating budget of $71,000. Russell County, which is maintained by the city, is at $221,680, but that does include a large swimming pool; and the Wayne County park budget is $122,870–with appropriations of $61,435 each donated by the city and county.

Judge Armstrong, in noting the park had improved drastically and seen a lot of additions over the years, was a huge asset to the county and gives children and adults alike something to do. He went on to vow to help keep it maintained.

Armstrong first suggested the county may be able to put in an extra $10,000 per year, contingent upon a city match. However, Mayor Smith noted the tightness of the city’s budget, but did agree he would try and come up with an additional $5,000 annually, which combined with the county’s like share making an additional $10,000 for the park.

Armstrong also noted that he would like to talk with Superintendent Charlotte Nasief about the situation to see if the school district could help out in any way.

Currently, the two entities–city and county–are making quarterly donations and both government budgets begin a new year on July 1, meaning any extra donations would not begin until that time.

Also, both the judge and mayor will have to present the measures to their respective fiscal court and city council and include the funding in the 2017-18 fiscal year budget cycle.

Both officials and park board members agreed that even with the extra $5,000 annual input, the operating budget for the local park would still be well below any in the area and more funding could be used. But both the judge and mayor also added they would try and help “a little more” in the future if financially feasible.