September 9, 2010

City Park System Gets Boost in New Budgete

While it may not be as complicated as the chicken or the egg question, the Memphis City Council agreed to try to make more money for the city’s parks system, by spending more money.

The 2010-11 fiscal year budget, approved at the September 4th council meeting, will include funding for a new parks director position.

The city has agreed to create a part-time supervisor job for the parks, while funding also was earmarked for a part-time parks maintenance worker.

A workshop will be scheduled later this month to finalize the job descriptions for both positions, but initial discussions have targeted a number of tasks for the new post, including supervising summer league softball, as well as men’s, women’s and coed leagues complete with a variety of tournaments to be held at Johnson park, all of which are expected to generate revenue for the park.

The new post also is expected to take over management of the swimming pool, supervising two head lifeguard positions in the day-to-day operation of the swimming facility, another facility being targeted for increased usage in 2011.

The pool has been budgeted for a $12,000 facelift, with repainting of the pool bottom, complete with striping for swim laps, planned for spring 2011.

The new budget is doubling expenditures for the park fund from just under $16,000 last year to nearly $32,000 in 2011, with the bulk of that change coming in the form of salaries.

To help pay for the changes, the council approved transition in the tax levy ratio, increasing the amount of sales tax earmarked for the parks system from 6% to 8.5%, with the 2.5% reduction coming from the general fund. The sales tax revenue will now be split with 37.5% to the general fund, 8.5% to parks and 54% to road and street. This does not represent a change in the taxes, just how they are allotted within the city funds.

The swimming pool and the lake are two other areas involved in the upcoming workshop. The council has identified all three budget funds for discussion, based on declining revenues.

“All three of these funds are areas where we have identified projects and where we would like to make improvements and expand services, but all three funds are going to require new revenue sources to make that possible,” said Alderman Chris Feeney. “That is what we hope to discuss at the workshop.”

The council voted to increase daily camping fees at the city lake from $10 to $15.

The city is pursuing a grant from the Department of Natural Resources that would provide $75,000 for a $100,000 proposed building project at Lake Show-Me. The council also reviewed estimates for installation of new concrete pads for campsites, that would also include water, electric and waste removal services.

The lake fund operates off approximately $3,500 - $4,500 in income from camper fees as well as $5,500-$6,500 in income from CRP, hay and crop grounds owned by the city at the site.

An average year has the lake producing roughly $13,000 in income.

The 2010-11 budget features more than $22,000 in expenses, with needed maintenance to lake facilities, equipment purchase and salaries for mowing the property.

The Memphis Pool is the third piece of the parks system to be discussed at the workshop. The new facility just completed its sixth season.

The pool is funded by approximately $27,000 in property taxes with a budgeted income from user fees of $13,000 providing an operating budget of roughly $40,000 annually.

Expenses include salaries for lifeguards that are budgeted at $20,000. A large expense in 2011 will be repainting the pool bottom. Other costs include chemicals and pool maintenance.

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