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Parks and Rec implements $50,000 budget cut

 


Though the Borough has a balanced budget for the upcoming fiscal year (beginning July 1, 2015), they have begun preparing for leaner times ahead. Borough Manager Steve Giesbrecht has tasked the Parks and Recreation department to cut $100,000 from their budget over the coming two fiscal years (FY), compared with the $887,334 budget for 2014-15.

“It’s never pleasant,” said Giesbrecht. “With the combination of state and federal cuts, we’ve got to start working on this.”

Parks and Rec Director Donnie Hayes said they’ve already eliminated one position, the project coordinator previously filled by Hannah Jackson, in order to shave off $50,000 from the FY2015-16 budget. That position was slated to end before the next budget cycle began in July, but those changes were pushed up because Jackson found other employment last month. Other changes are on the horizon as well.

“Number one, we’re looking at hours in the facility being cut,” Hayes said, adding that starting May 1 the facility will close from 1-3 p.m. on weekdays, the facility’s lowest use hours. That time will be used by Hayes and facilities supervisor Heidi Cabral to do the work previously done by the program coordinator.

“With this cut we have tried to minimize the effects that it would have on this community,” said Hayes.

Looking to FY2016-17, Hayes said a seasonal maintenance position may be cut in an effort to shave off another $50,000 from the department’s budget. That maintenance position includes work at the ball fields. That work may fall to the Petersburg Little League in the future as Hayes is currently in talks with the organization to transfer maintenance responsibilities.

Parks and Rec isn’t the only department tightening up their budgetary belt. The Petersburg Public Library is also in the early stages of preparing for a $50,000 cut to their FY2016-17 budget. The library board took up the issue at their meeting last week.

“The Library Board did start to talk about it, and they’ve given me the green light to look into the possibility of maybe closing the library on Mondays,” said Director Tara Alcock, adding that having two consecutive closed days would allow for easier and more efficient staffing of the facility.

“I don’t know at this point if that will actually solve the budgetary situation for the library,” she said, adding that in the coming months she will be taking a closer look at the projected financial impact of such a closure.

Additional cuts may be made to library programs to meet the new budget goal, but Alcock said those can sometimes be covered by grants.

“We can get funding from grants often for books and things...but spending for staff, it’s the hardest to get and biggest piece of the budget,” she said.

About 68 percent of the Library’s $440,000 budget is allocated for staffing.

Giesbrecht said planning for the future is essential. “We’ve handled the cuts the state has given us so far,” he said. “We keep hearing from Juneau that the cuts next year will be even more substantial, and that’s where it starts to get a little harder to handle.”

 

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