Serious cuts on the way to Auburn Parks and Recreation

Pools may close as early as Aug. 15
By: Sara Seyydin Journal Staff Writer
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Facing a 30 percent drop in total revenue over the past five years, the Auburn Recreation and Parks District is proposing several major cuts to balance its books. Among the cuts favored by staff, are proposals to close the district’s pools, which used to close on Labor Day, by Aug. 15 and not renew the contract to lease ball fields from the Gold Country Fairgrounds. Along with cuts, could come fee increases on custodial fees and lunch league basketball. District officials say the cuts are necessary to close the gap on the $24,000 budget deficit, while community members say the cuts and fee increases could have a negative impact on people. “Currently the deficit, if you are looking on paper, is about $24,000 but that is after we have made pretty significant cuts on our maintenance budget,” said Kahl Muscott, district administrator. “That gap already exists after we basically already cut every place we could and still be operational.” Muscott said the district has lost hundreds of thousands of dollars each year since 2008, which has finally caught up with it. Salaries of district staff were frozen in 2008 and continue to remain frozen. Last year the district took in $2.29 million in tax revenue alone, while this year, the district is projected to take in just $2.1 million. In 2008, the district took in $2.7 million in tax revenue. “Relative to how we have been with our budgets, say the last five years, it’s a big deal, but it’s nothing we can’t overcome at this point,” Muscott said. Aaron Simpson, 22, of Auburn, has been participating in services through the recreation and parks district since childhood. He was at Lunch League basketball Tuesday and said he is not in favor of the possibility of the district charging players. “I used all those fields actually,” Simpson said. “I still come here and they were talking about charging for this. I think it would kind of kill it.” Fellow lunch league basketball player Kevin Lewis, 30, Auburn, said while he would only be affected by changes to the basketball league, he thinks many people will be impacted by the early pool closure. “Really just the basketball I guess. I don’t use the pool. I think it would affect people,” Lewis said. “That seems like they (the Auburn Recreation and Parks District) would be losing money.” Sheryl Petersen, recreation services manager for the district, said they conducted a survey of lunch time basketball players to see what they would think about a fee increase. “It was kind of all over the map, in terms of getting, ‘Where are my tax dollars going?’” Petersen said. “Everyone had an opinion one way or the other.” Petersen said anytime the district offers a service for free, it incurs all of the costs of running it. In an original proposal, staff suggested closing the pool by July 31. That was the proposal she liked the least among them. “I fell on my sword because one of the proposed cuts was to close the pool at the end of the July,” Petersen said. Of all the proposed cuts she said not leasing the ball fields from the Gold Country Fairgrounds anymore makes the most sense. Although the fairgrounds only charges the district $1, maintenance fees cost around $5,000. Muscott said the Gold Country Fairgrounds would continue to rent the fields out to groups like the Placer High School JV Baseball team and Auburn Little League. Staff will present a preliminary proposal to the district’s board of directors at the Feb. 23 meeting. A final proposal will be adopted on March 29. “We are certainly looking for input from the public. They are more than welcome to share,” Muscott said. “We want to know what people think. This is their district.” Reach Sara Seyydin at _______________________________________________________ Proposed cuts and fee raises to the Auburn Recreation District • Closing the Sierra Pool, Splash Pool and Placer Hills Pool by Aug. 15. Estimated savings: $10,000 • Raising the custodial fees on rentals from $15 to $30. Estimated revenue increased: $8,000 • Reducing the available hours at the Canyon View Community Center. Estimated savings: $10,000 • Not renewing the contract with the Gold Country Fairgrounds for the lease of the ball fields. In previous years, the Fairgrounds leased the ball fields to ARD for $1 year and ARD provided the maintenance and upkeep. Estimated savings: $5,000 •Other proposed cuts include a reduction in the weed control at the parks, tree trimming and turf fertilizing. Total savings: $33,000 in one fiscal year Did you know? The Auburn Recreation and Parks District is the largest special tax district in Auburn, not considered a utility. It took in $2.29 million in tax revenue last year and is projected to take in $2.1 million this year. The funds are used to provide recreation services and parks throughout Auburn. Source: Kahl Muscott, District Administrator, Auburn Recreation and Parks District