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Parks and Rec budget for 2004 stays tight

South Whidbey Park and Recreation commissioners will be asked to approve the distrct’s 2004 budget of $505,709 during a special meeting on Nov. 12.

This amount, 1 percent greater than that spent for the 2003 budget year, may be just enough to keep the grass mowed at the district’s Maxwelton Road and Langley Road parks facilities, as well as operate the park’s programs for the next year.

An approved budget is due to Island County by Nov. 14. Public comment on the budget will be heard at 7 p.m. with adoption during the regular meeting which begins at 7:30 p.m.

The district expects to collect $471,515 in revenue during 2004 and spend $449,528 in maintenance and operation of the district. The 2004 capital allocation for the year is $56,180.56.

One of the areas to address this year is the increase in maintenance costs with the addition of the new South Whidbey Sports Complex on Langley Road.

“With the Sports Complex completely on-line, the maintenance budget has been heavily impacted with the amount of staff time required to maintain parks,” said parks director Suzette Hart.

Hart said she hopes the parks commissioners will approve her request for a part-time seasonal maintenance employee to work 24 hours a week for six months.

“We’ve been able to hold things together, but won’t be able to keep the parks up without additional staff,” she said. It will become apparent to the public before long,” Hart said.

If the district reduces the level of service, baseball and soccer fields would be mowed less often, restrooms and garbage cleaned up less frequently, and there would be less field preparation for ballfields.

“It would diminish the district’s standing in the community’s eye and could have a long term negative financial impact,” Hart said.

The district maintains 120 acres of park property between South Whidbey Community Park and the Sports Complex.

Other capital expenditures, Hart hopes to see in the upcoming budget total about $9,000 and include improving the park’s irrigation system, adding power to the picnic shelter at the South Whidbey Community Park, purchasing cement garbage cans and providing a material storage area.

The district will be seeking a four-year replacement levy in February 2004, which will be limited to a 1 percent increase over this year. The current levy was approved in Feb. 2002.

Hart estimates cost of running the levy election at $10,000.

Other additions to the budget include 2 percent cost of living raises for staff and 3 percent merit raises.

Parks district sponsors adult and youth sports programs and cultural activities including the ski bus and ski classes, Art in the Park, mountain biking classes a summer concert series, play gym and day camp.

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