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Published: Tuesday, 11/27/2012 - Updated: 1 year ago

Olander Park System could end year with balanced budget

BY KELLY McLENDON
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The Olander Park System 2012 budget is now in good shape, despite looking at a deficit just last month, and might even end the year in the black, according to park director Gary Madrzykowski, who updated the park's commissioners on current and future budgets Monday.

For the 2012 fiscal year, the park district spent $1,144,913 over the $1,030,800 that was budgeted, which left the park with a more than $114,000 projected deficit, or close to 11 percent over budget. But after the park system's homestead and rollback payment and general property tax revenunes came in higher than expected, the park is now closer to just under 6 percent over budget, he said.

The park system received the second half of its homestead and rollback payment, totaling $58,882, in October, and general property tax revenues were estimated at about $45,000 more than projected.

“I think that by the time all is said and done, I think we're going to go a little bit over in deficit, but what we'll go over in deficit, we'll make up by far in revenue, rather than breaking even," he said.

Mr. Madrzykowski said a possible surplus of $30,000 is in reach.

But while the numbers were over projections, Mr. Madrzykowski didn't seem worried that any problems would arise between now and the end of the year.

But Commissioner Gail Abood wanted to be prepared in case anything unexpected might happen to change that number, and questioned the director about the uncertainties.

Mr. Madrzykowski said he could only think of one scenario that would change the numbers drastically: “I think another huge storm,” he said, referring to the July 5 storm that caused more than $10,000 worth of damages in the park.

While he said he can't anticipate whether there will be an ice storm, he said there is plenty of money in the budget for snow plow crews for the park.

Unseasonably good weather also caused the park system to go over in employee salaries for the months of October and November. Officials budgeted $26,200 for wages in November, but ended up spending $29,297. October experienced a similar deficit, with wage totals over by $2,382.

“We had terrific weather in both of those months,” he said. A larger crew was kept on the park payroll to help with mulching and work at Sylvan Prairie Park, and an ecosystem restoration project was recently completed at the Brint Road park.

“That's why the numbers are so high. The weather held out so good. We had outdoor projects to work on,” he said.

But with the 2013 budget, Mr. Madrzykowski made it a point to explain to the commissioners that he always tries to budget for the “worst-case scenario.”

With that in mind, he planned to make a few key changes to the upcoming year's budget, which is currently estimated at $1,135,585.

“I just don't see a whole lot of need for professional services next year,” he told the commissioners, pointing out that a lot of the major projects in the park system are now completed.

For 2013, he decided to drastically reduce professional service costs, from $100,000 to $25,000. Improvement costs are also predicted to be lower in the upcoming year.

Mr. Madrzykowski said one upcoming project that has been in the works for awhile, a sledding hill at Sylvan Prairie Park, wouldn't be hurt by the reduction in funding. He believes that there will be money available from unencumbered funds and other sources.

“I certainly believe we have options that we can exercise at that time,” he said, adding that the park employees working on the ecosystem restoration project helped build the sledding hill and cover up the rocks that surround the area.  The project has been discussed since 2007 and could include a handicapped accessible trail. Currently, there is one hill on the park site ready for use by eager sledders this winter.

“Let's hope for a White Christmas,” Mr. Madrzykowski said.

The sledding hill project is expected to cost the park system an estimated $400,000.

Contact Kelly McLendon at kmclendon@theblade.com or 419-206-0356 or on Twitter at @MyTownSylvania.



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