Rec district could see layoffs if revenue seized by state

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Auburn Area Recreation and Park District officials could be forced to layoff employees and reduce maintenance at area parks if the state seizes property tax revenue from the already struggling rec district. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed suspending Proposition 1A, the 2004 measure that set up constitutional protections for local revenues. However, a provision allows the state to suspend Prop. 1A and “borrow” up to 8 percent of local government’s property tax revenue. This borrowing could continue for three years, and then must be paid back with interest. But there is concern by many local agencies that the state will not have the resources available to pay the borrowed money back in three years. During the district’s board meeting Thursday, directors adopted a resolution finding that a severe fiscal hardship will exist if these additional revenues are seized. “The board unanimously agrees that through prudent management by the district staff, the residents of the district have continued to receive a sustained level of quality and performance,” said Chairman Curt Smith. “The next ‘cut’ if it occurs will affect the services and facilities we offer.” The state’s action will cause the district to reopen its approved budget, which was already based on an estimated reduction in revenue due to the current negative economic forecast, to make cuts. These cuts could include layoffs, employee furloughs, decreased maintenance and operations and reductions in direct services to the public. “While I feel that this (Prop 1A suspension) is an exercise in futility, I am hopeful the state will find other ways to balance their budget besides going after local property tax money,” Director Scott Holbrook said. Other action and discussions Thursday: — Facilities and Grounds Supervisor Larry Gray was recognized as the Employee of the Month. Larry is the “face of the District” on the weekends, handling events, youth sports activities and general park use. — The ARD directors voted to add the words “health and happiness” to the ARD Mission Statement. The wording of the new Mission Statement reads as follows: “The mission of the Auburn Area Recreation and Park District is to provide an excellent system of parks, recreation facilities, programs and services that enrich the lives, health and happiness of our citizens.” — The board reviewed and offered input and comments on the Strategic Plan Update. This update to the Strategic Plan created in 2007 creates a useful planning tool that supports the ARD Mission and Vision Statements and provides direction for the improvements of the district’s physical assets and programs. The update was sent back to committee to consider some minor changes and will come back to the board for review and approval at the June 26 board meeting. — Staff report