Parks Group Recommends FY 2014 Budget

One component of the city’s fiscal year 2014 budget – for the parks and recreation unit – has received a recommendation of approval from the Ann Arbor park advisory commission. PAC was briefed on the budget at its April 16, 2013 meeting and unanimously passed a resolution recommending that the city council adopt it. [link to city's Legistar system, where 12 parks-related budget documents can be downloaded] FY 2014 begins on July 1, 2013.

Budgeted expenditures for the parks and recreation unit in FY 2014 – from the city’s general fund as well as from the parks maintenance and capital improvements millage – are $12,546,068. Of that, about $5.2 million will be paid from the millage, with $7.3 million from the general fund. In addition, the parks and recreation unit has responsibility for several smaller budgets, including a separate fund for the farmers market.

Colin Smith, the city’s parks and recreation manager, gave a budget presentation during the meeting, noting that it was the first time during his tenure that no cuts or service reductions are being proposed. “The message is status quo,” he told commissioners. “There’s not a significant change here.”

Among the items he noted in his presentation was a change in the budgeting for the city’s two golf courses at Huron Hills and Leslie Park. Rather than operating as a separate golf enterprise fund, the budgets for the golf courses will be part of the parks and recreation portion of the general fund. That change better mirrors how the golf courses actually operate, Smith said, and helps integrate the golf operations into the rest of the parks and recreation unit.

The PAC resolution highlighted several key elements of the fiscal 2014 parks and recreation budget:

  • Increased revenue due to higher than anticipated usage at the Argo Cascades.
  • Increased revenue by increasing rental fees at Cobblestone Farm and the Gallup Park meeting room.
  • A continuation of the 14-day mowing cycle.
  • Continued use of seasonal park supervisor positions to increase staff presence in the parks for improved maintenance and enforcement.
  • A reduction in natural gas usage expenses, reflecting recent infrastructure energy improvements at various recreational facilities.
  • A reduction in expenses for materials and supplies that were previously needed to maintain recreation facilities, as a result of recent improvements.
  • A plan to optimize staff software use and eliminate unnecessary software installations where appropriate.

The PAC recommendation will be forwarded to the city council, which will be voting on the city’s overall budget on May 20.

The April 16 meeting also marked the last meeting for commissioner Tim Doyle, who serves as chair of PAC’s budget and finance subcommittee. His term ends May 17, and he is not seeking re-appointment. He told commissioners at the meeting that he’ll be spending more of his time in Florida. Smith joked that he’d be happy to come to Florida to discuss the budget with Doyle next year.

This brief was filed from the second-floor council chambers at city hall, located at 301 E. Huron. A more detailed report will follow: [link]