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Gainesville parks budget likely to shrink as capital spending wanes
Nearly 750,000 visit park facilities annually
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Gainesville Parks and Recreation Department

FY 2015 budget: $5.1 million

FY 2016 request: $4.365 million

What’s new: Priorities for the next fiscal year include expanding the size of volleyball and lacrosse leagues, growing sponsorships and developing a larger, sustained volunteer base.

The Gainesville Parks and Recreation Department will see a more than 14 percent decrease in its budget next year if staff has its way, with the majority of cuts related to operations and capital projects.

Director Melvin Cooper made the fiscal year 2016 budget proposal at a City Council work session Thursday morning.  

Cooper said he understands the need to hold the line or better on expenses as property tax revenues show only modest increases.

Cooper has proposed a budget of about $4.365 million. The current year’s budget is about $5.1 million.

If approved, property taxes would account for 59 percent of revenue, while service charges and user fees account for 39 percent of revenues.

Revenues from charges and fees are projected at $1.688 million, and the Frances Meadows Aquatic Center brings in 52 percent of that total, or $890,000.

Operating expenses for Frances Meadows total nearly $1.4 million.

Cooper has also proposed allocating $79,500 from reserve funds to offset some operational expenses. 

There are no proposed capital project expenses in the budget.

City parks and facilities attract an estimated 750,000 annual visitors, and Cooper said the department

Priorities for the next fiscal year include expanding the size of volleyball and lacrosse leagues, growing sponsorships and developing a larger, sustained volunteer base.

Cooper said the department also intends to formulate a five-year operating plan.

Finally, an infusion of revenue from special purpose local option sales tax, or SPLOST VII, will be directed toward developing a youth sports complex, replete with ball fields and facilities, in the coming years.

While breaking ground is still a while down the road, Cooper said the department is ready to help facilitate the process. 

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