Local News: Funding for the Parks Department was discussed during the budget work session (11/18/23)
Daily Mail file photo
City Manager Mark Mitchell said it would take $1.2 million to run the parks department, which now has a reserve fund after four years.
The department has two main sources of revenue: the half-cent park sales tax, which brings in $900,000 to $1 million annually, and the cigarette tax, which was budgeted to bring in $60,000. Other revenue comes from fees, events and tournaments.
“So the parks department has to pay about $200,000 in fees to be able to operate,” Mitchell said.
Later during the meeting, Mitchell said city budgets range from $28,000 to $30,000 in fee revenue.
Mitchell said the park board approved new fees for city facilities. The new fees are included in the 2024 budget.
Mitchell noted that the city leases the golf course to Maxim Golf Solutions, and they no longer collect golf fees. However, the city has access to the golf course’s budget and can view the golf course’s bank account.
Later, when reviewing the expenses, Mitchell said the golf course had requested some equipment, which would remain with the state of Nevada and also be owned by the city. This includes the sprayer, dispenser, and utility cart.
The parks fund has been in the red for four years, but now has a reserve of $400,000, due to golf course rent and no pool expenses, Mitchell said.
The budget also includes a $90,000 grant from the Missouri Department of Environmental Conservation. The city has received one grant and will apply for another in 2024, Mitchell said.
Some of the money is being taken from the parks construction fund, which is worth about $270,000, Mitchell said. Of that amount, $50,000 was allocated to Earp Park and its trails, which was covered by language accompanying the sales tax ballot.
City Treasurer Bill Denman said there has been $275,000 allocated to the parks construction fund since 2010, but it will take money to drain the lake and complete all planned projects.
The budget also includes $75,000 for contract mowing in parks, Mitchell said.
“Contracting is still cheaper than buying lawnmowers and paying employees,” Mitchell said.
As for larger expenses, Mitchell said they are looking to purchase a front-end tractor for garden work, the golf course, additional bathrooms and playground equipment. The budget also includes replacing some of the equipment at the community center, such as a floor scrubber.
Nothing is budgeted for a pool, Mitchell said. Mitchell said they are looking at options, from repairing the existing pool, to the cost of a square pool and adding a splash pad.
Mayor Kendall Vickers asked if the city would be able to handle any additional recreational amenities, such as a pickleball court, if they were awarded to the city.
“Our fees don’t generate enough revenue to cover our expenses,” Mitchell said. “I never have.”
The city had to reimburse about $150,000 from the parks fund to operate the complex, he said.
“We’re struggling to find a funding source for that,” Mitchell said. “We don’t have any more taxes.”
Vickers asked about the possibility of issuing bonds for the complex. When the sales tax issue passed, the real property tax was “abolished,” Denman said. The bond issue would likely put additional factories on that tax.
“As a council, we have to do something,” Commissioner Carol Braham said. “We have to do something for our children.”
She said the parks sales tax was passed for town kids, not just kids coming from out of town to play in tournaments.
If the park property tax were reinstated, revenues would range from $100,000 to $150,000 annually, Denman said.
Mitchell said they would explore the idea of issuing bonds.
Commissioners will conduct a first reading of the proposed budget on December 2, with a final reading and possible adoption on December 19.