The Parks and Recreation Commission continue to ask for more funding as it attempts to adjust to more budget cuts in the upcoming fiscal year.
Wade Yeates, chairman of the parks and recreation commission, appeared before the Board of Mayor and Aldermen this week in the hopes of securing additional funding for his budget, which saw a second cut from the city’s previous contribution.
The Parks and Recreation Commission had to make extreme cuts in its upcoming budget after the city of Yazoo City decreased its contribution for the second year in a row. The city of Yazoo City contributed $130,953 to the commission in the 2016-2017 year. However, that figure has decreased to $76,233, or 1.5 mills, in the upcoming year.
“In past 24 months, we have seen a 40 percent reduction in city contributions,” Yeates said. “That is really concerning. The Parks and Recreation Commission was the only millage that was made to be reduced. In fact, there was an area in the (city) budget that was increased 14 times as much as we were cut. It is hard to work like that.”
Yeates said he also appeared before the Yazoo County Board of Supervisors with the same request. The county’s contributions to parks and recreation has remained steady over the years.
“I am not just asking the city,” Yeates said. “We are asking both the city and county for adequate funding.”
Yeates said county leaders did tell him that they would make some funds available into its budget that would be allocated for parks and recreation “to see some immediate relief.”
During its last board meeting, the Parks and Recreation Commission’s upcoming fiscal budget showed cuts within its programs. With less funds to operate, the parks and recreation could be forced to close the swimming pool and eliminate the Campanella Park baseball and flag football.
The swimming pool was a heavy expense to the Parks and Recreation’s budget last year. The commission considered not to open the swimming pool last year due to financial restraints. But Yeates said they were strongly urged by community leaders to open the pool, claiming any hardships would be taken care of.
“I was completely against opening the pool,” said Mayor Diane Delaware. “I did say should you open the pool that we would seek to help you out should there be any issues. People keep saying that…maybe some of these aldermen were…but I am stating that I was not in support of it. I am never going to support anything that you don’t have money to do.”
“We were very heavily encouraged to consider the ramifications if we didn’t open the pool,” Yeates added. “We were encouraged that if we fell short, the expenses of the swimming pool with its operating expenses, that the city would help us out there. It’s no secret. You can look at our budget every year. The pool revenue is nothing what it costs to operate.”
Yeates made two suggestions that he said could help the parks and recreation commission with its budget. Reimbursing the commission for its losses associated with the swimming pool was one option. The second suggestion would be the possibility of the Public Service Commission absorbing its monthly utility cost.
Delaware said the city council knew what it had to do when it came to setting its budget.
“Parks and Recreation was also aware, many months ago as well, that its contributions would be different,” she said. “I did not see any action from those contributions that were made differently or decreased, any actions from Parks and Recreation to make any steps to decrease their budget. In fact, they made steps to increase people’s salaries.”
Delaware said before the city does anything, it needs to see what Parks and Recreation is planning to cut within its budget. For example, she said she doesn’t understand why the commission is paying insurance for part-time employees.
Yeates added that necessary cuts have been made, including many seasonal workers not coming back in the summer season.
Delaware also added that the possibility of dissolving the current agreement with the city and county, which she said is based on outdated legislation, should also be considered. She said the agreement is “dead,” adding that only two communities in the state still follow that legislation.
The city council took no solid action on the Parks and Recreation Commission. Yeates said he will work on setting a date that all three parties could meet for discussion.