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Gainesville parks department proposes increased budget
Funds may go toward upgrading facilities, purchasing new maintenance equipment
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TAX WATCH

Government agencies are presenting their proposals for the fiscal year 2015 budget that begins July 1.

Gainesville: Parks and Recreation Department

FY 2015 request: $5.261 million

FY 2014 budget: $5.043 million

What’s new: Priorities include upgrading park facilities, improving trails, purchasing new maintenance equipment and increasing staff.

As it looks to expand recreational opportunities, renovate park facilities and increase staff, the Gainesville Parks and Recreation Department has proposed a $5.261 million budget for the 2015 fiscal year.

That’s a 4.14 percent increase over the current year’s budget. 

City Council heard the department’s budget presentation Thursday morning, the last before City Manager Kip Padgett unveils his overall city budget May 1. 

Of the Parks and Recreation Department’s total budget, about $2.5 million would come from local property tax revenue, representing a 6.31 percent increase. 

About $770,000 has been budgeted for capital improvements, which include upgrading park restrooms, making improvements to trails, renovating park playgrounds and athletic fields, and purchasing new maintenance equipment and vehicles. 

The department projects revenues from service and fee charges to top $1.66 million, and parks officials said they are working toward making this revenue stream account for 40 percent of the budget. 

The department intends to continue with its energy-efficiency goals, with an eye toward reducing consumption by another 3 percent next year. 

Additional goals for the coming fiscal year include raising the number of youth program participants from the current total of 1,300, increasing the number of sponsors to 70 from 60, and enhancing formal partnerships with local organizations such as the Boys & Girls Clubs of Hall County. 

According to officials, the city’s parks, athletic fields, fitness centers, swimming pools and other amenities attract 750,000 visitors annually. Athletic events and swim meets alone had an estimated $5.3 million economic impact in the 2013 fiscal year. 

“We’re moving forward with what we need to get done,” said Michael Graham, deputy director of parks and recreation.