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Park district has ‘healthy’ finances

PRINCETON — Finances, past and present, were on the agenda for the recent meeting of the Princeton Park Board.

At Monday’s meeting, Elaine Russell, executive director, gave an overview of the recent 44-page audit received by the park district.

The combining balance sheet of all funds for the fiscal year ending June 30, were balanced and healthy, Russell said. Those funds include the general, special revenue, debt service, enterprise and internal service funds, which includes the park district’s assets and liabilities.

The park district has three long-term liabilities/debts, Russell said. Those include three years remaining on the Peru Street property purchase; 11 years remaining on revenue bonds to complete the Zearing Park expansion project; and the park district’s annual working cash general obligation bonds.

The auditors found all information presented by the park district to be complete and accurate.

To get a look at the “bigger picture,” Russell also presented a financial snapshot history of the ending balances of the cash on hand fund since 2007, noting major projects, grants or bond actions taken in that particular year.

For instance, in 2007, the park district ended the fiscal year with an ending cash on hand balance of $424,182, which was after the $400,000 purchase of 40 acres adjacent to Zearing Park and the $164,240 purchase of the Thompson Street property on the north edge of Zearing Park. The 40-acre purchase was funded in part by an $303,500 state grant, Russell said.

In 2009, the park district had a ending cash on hand balance of $2.3 million, which included bond money of $1.8 million for the Zearing Park expansion project. The park district ended the 2013 fiscal year with a cash on hand balance of $965,760.

On Tuesday, Russell said the history of “ending cash on hand” is important in the budget planning for each new year. The district is working on a new budget year while in the middle of the current year’s budget. If a budget is planned around the idea of successfully attaining year-end figures, then revenues and expenses must also be maintained, she said.

“Spending down can easily be seen by ending cash on hand and is a marker for making change,” Russell said.

Looking at the park district’s healthy financial condition, Russell said it has taken the dedication of the board and employees to understand the yearly budget in order for them to bring in the needed revenues and to stay within the limitations determined for expenses.

“The park district uses this question when spending money, ‘Is this a want or a need?’ If we need it, we try our best to put it in the budget. If it something we think we want, it is set on the back burner,” Russell said.

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