The other side of the Opechee Park House that was not mentioned in Tuesday's article follows.
When anyone, public official or regular citizen is faced with their budget making decisions for the month or the year, they have to approach it with three questions over and above the obvious of how much money do you have and what your fixed obligations are.
First: Is this expenditure necessary?
Second: Can this wait?
Third: Will harm be done if we don't fund the item?
The answers are quite simple. It is not necessary, it can wait, and no harm will be done to the City if we don't fund this item this year. It does not meet the criteria listed above.
The Parks and Recreation Dept.'s budget this year shows an item for maintenance of grounds. That is for the parks, sport fields, etc. and is for $50,000. In fiscal year 2011-2012 this item was only $27,000.00. However, with the increase in fields and the high maintenance cost of the new fields, our Parks Dept. is stretched to the limit for money and for manpower. While the bottom line on the page shows $642,870.00 as a total for the Parks Dept. this is not strictly true.
Under the capital outlay budget there is money not only for the Opechee Park House but for Endicott Rock Park Beach which is for the erosion study at Weirs Beach and necessary to the preservation of this historic beach, and under outlay to be bonded is $850,000 for Parks. $500,000 for construction of Weirs Beach Park and then $300,000 for the repair of Smith Track. The Weirs Park has been in the works for many years, has been funded for engineering which is now complete and ready to go. Both of these projects represent good things for the city, not just the Weirs. We will all reap the benefits from an increase in tourism and upgrading of the Weirs, and therefore they qualify in my mind.
But, both these projects will once again put a burden on the crews of the Parks Dept. which are understaffed even now. Maintenance costs will rise and make it difficult to cover all our parks and fields with the present staff level and money for maintenance. When you build new and bigger things, they must be taken care of as well as all the other Parks and fields.
My thought is that the $110,000.00 for the Opechee Park House could be spent for other items needed or perhaps enable us to hire a couple of part-time Park employees to help take care of all these parks and fields in the manner they should be. We have all seen what happens when we don't take care of what we have. We have had to increase spending to restore something we have neglected.
Not knowing how the state budget is going to affect us, there may be a need to use this money and others for the increases that might come.
At the present time, this budget we have in front of us will cost the taxpayer an increase of $.39 more than last year, and last year it increased by $.44 cents.
Surely, we can do better.
Brenda Baer, City Councilor, Ward 4