October 31, 2013 | Vol. 117 -- No. 28

Parks budget keeps director position

When it comes to the coming year for Cheney’s Parks and Recreation, the concerns might not be budgetary, but administrative.

The biggest change in 2014 is the departure of Paul Simmons, Parks and Recreation director since the department was re-established in 2004 after citizen approval of a taxing measure the previous year. Simmons has accepted a similar position with the city of Olympia, a much larger department than Cheney’s, and will leave the city’s employ Nov. 9.

In an Oct. 10 Cheney Free Press story, Mayor Tom Trulove said the city intends to not fill Simmons position immediately, letting staff handle functions that Simmons said pretty much run themselves. The city might begin looking for a replacement sometime next spring, in which case the money for the director’s salary and benefits will already be included in the budget.

“It (the budget) was written prior to my accepting the Olympia position,” Simmons told the council at its Oct. 22 meeting.

Parks and Recreation is budgeting 2014 expenses at $869,600, just over a 1 percent increase from 2013’s $860,300. Fifty-four percent of those expenses, $467,800, are for recreation services with 35 percent, $302,500, for parks maintenance and $95,200, 11 percent, for aquatic services.

Revenues are forecasted at $869,600, 40 percent of which, $345,000, coming from the utility tax approved in 2003. Thirty percent, $262,700, comes from recreation programs with the rest in single digit amounts from a variety of sources.

Most of the park, aquatic and recreation expenses come from paying part-time salaries and employment related expenses, with rest a mixture of operating supply costs, insurance and other needs.

Among the department’s accomplishments in 2013 listed by Simmons were 11 free swims, sponsored by local businesses, and 588 free Make-Splash passes being issued at Cheney’s pool. Through the Spokane County’s Conservation Futures program, the city was able to partner with the Cheney-Spokane Chapter of the Ice Age Floods Institute to purchase the Williams Lake Plunge Pool at no cost to Cheney, along with joining with other agencies to kickoff the Scabland Recreation Zone project.

Goals for 2014 include finishing phase 1 construction of the city’s 50 Acre Park along Betz Road, update the city’s parks plan, increase facility rental revenue and participation by 10 percent while continuing to find funding and support for a variety of programs and initiative’s such as Let’s Move! Cheney.

John McCallum can be reached at jmac@cheneyfreepress.com.

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