Comissioners Examine Park District Spending Plan
$3.95 million budget includes increases in salaries, health care costs.
With only days left before approving an operations budget for the next fiscal year, Park District of La Grange commissioners spent the Monday night meeting on March 14 tweaking the $3.95 million spending plan.
If revenue projections are accurate, the park district will end the next fiscal year with a surplus of $12,000, primarily due to higher than expected recreation center revenues. Activity fees, which are projected to generate $770,000 over the next year, are the second biggest source of income for the park district after property taxes. Property taxes generate $2.6 million.
“This is a budget that shows we are living within our means and that we are generating positive cash flow from our operations,” said Commissioner Bob Ashby.
Ashby said activity fee projections fell short in the 2010 fiscal year, so they are projecting less for the next budget cycle.
Park District President Mary Ellen Penicook asked what can be done to turn those projections around.
Leynette Kuniej, park district superintendent of finance, responded that the projected numbers are based on maximum attendance of every class the park district offers. She said they fell short of meeting attendance goals this past year.
“We’re changing out some classes to offer more of what the public has been asking us for,” Kuniej said.
New classes will include tennis and gymnastics instruction.
Ashby said the budget must show 100 percent of expected revenue, even though 100 percent of goals may not be realized.
The park district budget shows planned expenses of $3.95 million when the new fiscal year begins May 1.
The budget includes a $51,324 increase in salaries and wages, which is a 5 percent bump over the 2010 operations budget. The salary bump includes a 3.5 percent cost of living increase and a new part-time staff member. The salary increase is the first raise park district employees have seen in two years, said Deann Bissias, executive director of the park district.
The budget includes a rate increase of $30,487 for health insurance costs. The costs are primarily increasing due to expenses passed on from the provider, Bissias said.
Responding to a question raised by Ashby, Bissias said he shopped around with other health care providers to compare costs, but their current provider offered the best rates.
Other expenses include a projected $14,300 increase in electricity costs. Bissias said the increase is due to taxes and not electricity usage.
One expenditure that makes it appear the budget is out of balance is a line item of $3.5 million for new construction. Over the past year park district commissioners discussed several possible construction projects, but a new fitness center and Gordon Park dominated discussions. Each of these projects have estimated costs of more than a million dollars. Despite the projected expense in the next budget, Bisssias said the park district does not currently have the funds to undertake any new constructions. Bissias said they are legally required to budget for any construction projects, even if there is no funding. He said the funding gives the park district the legal authority to spend the money if they in fact had the means to do so.
“The funds have to be added to the expenses in the budget so they will have the authority to spend it, even though there is no funding approved for it at this point,” said Kuniej. “We’ve appropriated it, but we’re just not choosing to spend it at this time.”
Prior to adopting the proposed budget, a public hearing will be held April 14. The park district will convene a meeting following the public hearing to vote on the budget.