Kyle Jensen / The Record Parks commissioner and treasurer Matt Simms goes over the 2017 budget with parks staff and other commissioners.

South Whidbey Parks and Recreation District approves $1 million budget, wage increases

Wage increases for South Whidbey Parks and Recreation District staff are included in the district’s budget for 2017, which sees revenue slightly increase from 2016.

Four of the five parks commissioners voted to approve the 2017 budget as well as a 1 percent levy rate increase at the regular monthly commissioners meeting Tuesday, Nov. 15. The levy rate hike, which is allowed under Washington state law to accommodate rising costs, was approved in a 4-0 vote.

Commissioner Don Wood was not present at the meeting.

The wage hikes impact all five district employees: the parks director, an administrator, the programs manager and two maintenance staff members. All are seeing a roughly $3,000-$4,000 wage increase from 2016.

Next year, the district will work with $1.06 million in revenue, a small .5 percent bump from the $1.05 million budget in 2016. The district hopes to end 2017 with $305,181 in total cash for capital, maintenance and operations, reserve and program funds.

“To me, it’s a budget that is sustainable and allows us to meet the needs of the community without adding significant changes to our levy rate,” Parks Director Doug Coutts said.

Expenses are predicted to total $814,832, an increase from the estimated $772,308 spent during 2016. That’s an increase of 5.5 percent. The district will spend most of that money on its administration, but the expense that is experiencing the largest relative increase is programs with a 13.3 percent increase.

The district is predicting to spend $126,212 on programs in 2017. One of the notable increases in spending falls under cultural events, which the parks district plans to spend $27,024 on as opposed to $25,861 this year. The annual father/daughter and mother/son events will also see increased spending, with $3,650 allocated. Guitar lessons will be a new addition to the budget.

“We’re operating within a tight fiscal window that we can operate in,” Commissioner Matt Simms said. “We’re not going to get ourselves into trouble, but at the same time, there is no margin to do other stuff. We can’t do this or do that with significant capital.”

The parks district is expecting to finish the current year with just over $200,000 as an ending reserve balance, and it expects to do the same in 2017 with an ending balance of $207,105.

The proposed campground doesn’t impact the 2017 budget since it’s projected to be completed in 2018.

The approved budget was sent to Island County for approval.

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