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Park district looks at needs, not wants in budget

PRINCETON — The Princeton Park District will operate this year on a “needs” budget, not a “wishes and wants” budget.

At this week’s meeting of the Princeton Park Board, park district Executive Director Elaine Russell reviewed the Fiscal Year 2014 tentative budget, which showed total appropriations in all funds of $2,971,950. This amount is very close to last year’s appropriations, she said. Total new revenue is projected at $2,004,080.

The park district is taking care of what it needs and not worrying about wishes and wants, she said.

On Tuesday, Russell further explained the tentative budget, saying the park district has
beginning cash on hand of $933,785, with another $46,395 in the Corporate Emergency Fund and $35,000 in the Enterprise/Metro Center Emergency Fund. With those factors included, the park district has a total projected revenue of $3,019,260 for the FY ‘14.

“I refuse to pad revenue sources, which is an extremely easy thing to do,” Russell said. “I am basing all fee, membership and rental revenue on last year’s actuals. To inflate unknown revenue sources is to be working with false figures.”

Operating a facility such as the Metro Center and maintaining nearly 200 acres of park land makes it necessary to have reserve funds, not specifically designated to a certain project, Russell said.

“There are always emergency purchases and repairs, Russell said. “We must also work to increase revenues. Each department head monitors their specific budget line items, keeping the park district monitoring expenses and revenues on a monthly basis.”

The park district expects to bond $800,000 to $810,000 this year, with approximately $380,000 going to Corporate Fund, $380,000 going to the Enterprise/Metro Center Fund, and about $50,000 remaining in the General Obligation Bond Fund until needed in either of those funds.

Main expenses for the district are salaries and benefits, maintenance and capital improvement projects, which the latter can be put on hold if finances are not available due to lower revenues or emergencies, Russell said.

In other financial news at Monday’s meeting, Russell said this year hasn’t been a good one for attendance at the outdoor Alexander Park Swimming Pool because of the cooler weather. Revenue for the outdoor pool is down about $2,500 from last year, but utility costs have almost doubled, she said.

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