• 72°

Parks & Rec asks for $60K boost from Danville

Editor’s note: This is the sixth story in a series focused on agency funding requests made to the City of Danville for fiscal year 2019-20.

Employee Amber Shartzer appeared on behalf of the Danville-Boyle County Parks & Recreation agency during funding requests made to the city earlier this month. The agency was funded $240,000 last year, and is asking for $304,390 for the upcoming budget year.

Shartzer said some of the increase is due to the director’s salary — which Parks & Rec has been without since August. Shartzer said utilities and retirement costs have increased, also, just to name a few.

“I’m trying to get our numbers back to where they made a little more sense, are more realistic,” she said. Shartzer, who is the bookkeeper and administrative assistant for Parks & Rec, said she met with City Manager Ron Scott and Michelle Gosser, the chief financial officer of the city. She said they gave her pointers about what she needed to do with this year’s budget.

A full-time office manager was added to the budget, to be housed at the Bunny Davis center, and all capital projects were included in the budget, as well, Gosser said, as opposed to doing a separate one.

“I could’ve put a whole lot more capital (expenses) in there, but wanted to take baby steps,” Shartzer said.

“You’re going to get this from the county, so I’ll go on and ask — you’re requesting more from them than from the city?” said Mayor Mike Perros. Parks & Rec is asking the county for $315,760.

“That’s just how it worked out, since the 55/45 agreement over Bunny Davis,” Shartzer said, in reference to the county paying 55 percent to keep the center open, while the city pays the rest.

Scott said in the past, “we have not accounted for and charged the county for any use of water and sewer. That’s a big contribution we have made. That’s been kind of understood in the terms that we are providing additional support.”

Perros asked Scott if the city was splitting the water this year with the county. Scott said the city hasn’t gotten to that point with the county in its budget review yet, “but it’s an interest we have because that’s a fairly large amount of money we’re contributing without reimbursement.”

Scott said he felt it important for the community to recognize that “in total, we’re talking about $900,000 or so, close to $1 million, in terms of total appropriations between city and county for all of these activities. It’s a significant amount of money.”

Commissioner Kevin Caudill asked Shartzer if the budget is “essentially for Millennium Park?”

“Millennium Park, the fitness center and the pool,” Shartzer said.

“The city parks within the city limits aren’t included? Caudill asked, to which Shartzer said no.

Commissioner Denise Terry said she was under the impression “the county didn’t want to contribute to the fitness center. Did that change?”

Shartzer said the county “put more of that money into the park last year, but they didn’t take away all money from the fitness center.”

Mayor Perros said, “This is not directed at you. It’s a discussion that needs to take place with others … but when I read the mission statement, it says ‘to maintain existing park facilities,’ — facilities, plural. The ordinance says the same. We have to begin to have that kind of conversation that says, ‘Are we going to abide by our own legal ordinance or not?’ Needs to be cleared up. But that’s not directed toward you.”

“We would like to see all parks under Parks & Rec. It would make more sense,” Shartzer said. “But in return for that to happen, the budget has to grow, too.”

Commissioner Rick Serres asked Shartzer if that was the feeling she was getting from the Parks & Rec board — “that it should be all inclusive?”

“Yes. And I’m not saying one person over the other needs to run it, but we would like it to be all-inclusive,” Shartzer said. She said when someone calls Bunny Davis about a city park issue and they must be referred to the city, it can be confusing for residents.

“Thanks again for pulling this together, during this time that we’re in,” Commissioner J.H. Atkins said. “And the other small neighborhood parks do need to be under your all’s care.” He said it would mean a lot of “preventive things can be done before something happens.”

“We will keep working toward that in upcoming proposals,” Atkins said.

Perros told Shartzer, “You’ve done a great job in a difficult situation, and I want you to know that.”

Commissioner Terry echoed that. “And also your staff, you all have gone above, we’re trying to get you out of this limbo position that we’re all in.”