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Doing more with less

Park district reviews financials

PRINCETON — The Princeton Park Board has reviewed its bond and real estate payment obligations which total more than $1 million for 2014.

Elaine Russell, executive director, presented the information at Monday’s park board meeting at the Bureau County Metro Center.

The information shows the park district will be responsible for a $31,868 payment on July 1 for the Zearing Park expansion project bond interest. The total amount due on the $1.8 million bond, starting Jan. 1, 2010, was $2,565,535. As of this date the park district owes $1,836,679 with the last payment to be made Jan. 1, 2024.

The park district will also have a Nov. 1 payment of $20,740 on the Peru Street property purchase, just north of the Metro Center property. This is the third of five payments on the total purchase price of $103,701. The park district has another three years on that payment schedule.

On Nov. 3, the park district will have a payment of $797,242 on its annual general obligation bond and interest. The annual general obligation bond and interest is paid in full each year, Russell said.

Another $141,868 payment will be made Dec. 31 on the Zearing Park expansion project principal and interest with a bond management fee of $500.

Also, the park district will have a $25,764 payment to make before June 30, 2014, to the city of Princeton for a tax abatement of the Bailey Subdivision.

Following the presentation at Monday’s meeting, Russell commended the park board and staff for being willing to listen to her suggestions and then to follow them in order to keep the district financially responsible.

On Tuesday, Russell said the 2013-14 budget shows an estimated goal for revenue of $1,213,100, with an added beginning-cash-on-hand of about $880,000, for total revenue of $2,093,100. Plenty of money is obtained in revenue to cover these payment obligations for the 2014 year, but the district also has to cover its other expenses through the use of real estates taxes, fees, rentals, donations and grants and bond proceeds.

Russell said five years ago the Princeton Park District had to face the fact that money was going out faster than it was coming in. What that meant was a detailed look at where the district’s money was being spent and asking if everything was being done with the available money to operate the Bureau County Metro Center and park district, she said.

At that time, the decision was made to eliminate some luxuries which included some phones; container water; replacement vehicles went from two-to-three years; and overtime, Russell said. Also, the deductible on health insurance was increased. Yearly salary increases were withheld one year; low-attended programs were cut back; and, as small as it may sound, lights were turned off in rooms not used, Russell said.

“Should we have been doing all of this before? Maybe, but it took the horrible decline in our economy to challenge us to do more with less,” she said. “I feel we have done quite well, but the squeeze is still on.  For now we can only afford what we need ~ not always what we want.”

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