South Whidbey Parks and Recreation District approves $1 million budget for 2018

South Whidbey Parks and Recreation District recently approved a roughly $1 million 2018 budget, and district staff will see a wage bump as a result.

The board of commissioners voted to approve the budget at the monthly commissioners meeting Wednesday night. The board also approved a 1 percent levy rate increase, which is allowed under Washington state law to meet rising costs.

All of the district’s administrators will receive similar raises in between $3,000 and $5,000 in a budget that was similar to the 2017 budget.

The pay bumps include the parks director, who is set to make $87,000, the maintenance supervisor, as well as maintenance staff, programs manager and administrator.

As a whole, administration expenses make up the district’s largest expense, nearly $600,000. The raises are similar to those at other parks districts in the area, according to Parks Director Doug Coutts.

The district will have nearly $1,170,000 to work with next year, a 5.4 percent increase from the 2017 budget. As a result, about $850,000 has been set aside for total expenses, which is a 7 percent increase from the previous year.

“It’s a pretty similar budget from what we had last year, but we did have a few things that will line up at the same time,” Coutts said. “We’ve got an audit payment that falls next year, the election costs that we’ll set aside for putting the levy rate increase on the ballot, so we do have some significant costs that we don’t have every year.”

The district is heading into the final year of a four-year levy that went into effect in 2015, so it has to return to the voters next year to approve a new levy.

There is a .9 percent increase in next year’s maintenance expenses, which are estimated to total $142,000. The district is also predicting to spend $118,000 on programming, while estimating it could generate nearly $145,000 from the year’s programs.

Of the programming expenses, the most money will be spent on sports. Swim lessons and the swim team have about $20,000 set aside, the Whidbey Triathlon is slated for $15,700 and youth basketball is allocated about $10,000.

According to commissioner Matt Simms, the budget reflects the tightened purse strings the parks district works with. Nonetheless, the district estimates it will end the year with a balance of $33,651.

“We’re operating within a tight fiscal window that we can operate in,” 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 without significant capital.”

The budget was sent to the county for final approval.

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