Parks department asking for more budget flexibility

Wednesday, October 24, 2018 - 10:09

A resolution that would give the Eagle River-Chugiak Parks and Recreation Department more flexibility in how it allocates its funds was introduced at the Anchorage Assembly Tuesday.

If adopted, the ordinance will change the formula managers use to spend the one-mill property tax levy used to fund the department.

According to parks director John Rodda, the change is needed in order to meet the department’s operating budget for next year.

“This is so we’re not locked in,” to a statutory split between operating and capital budgets, Rodda told the parks board of supervisors earlier this month.

The department is funded by property taxes levied on Chugiak-Eagle River residents, but currently the one-mill levy is split, with 70 percent mandated for the department’s operations and 30 percent set aside for capital projects.

But the department is facing a half-million dollar budget shortfall after the Office of Management and Budget informed Rodda earlier this year that the tax assessment had declined significantly.

“This is a huge impact on our service area,” said Rodda, who told the board his department had a budget of roughly $3.5 million budget this year, with around $1 million going toward capital projects.

The department has made do this year by funding itself with reserves, but Rodda said things will be tight next year — hence the need for flexibility.

Rodda said the smaller budget for next year will likely result in fewer capital projects for the department. Because the department has been living within its means, he said, things should be okay going forward.

“We’re in as good a position as we could be,” he said.

Email Star editor Matt Tunseth at [email protected] or call (907) 257-4274

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