Mill Creek MetroParks board approves 2016 budget


By Jordyn Grzelewski

jgrzelewski@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

The Mill Creek MetroParks Board of Park Commissioners adopted a 2016 budget that again trims spending.

The budget appropriates $9,438,750 out of the park’s general fund, down from $9,626,621 in 2015 and $9,750,683 in 2014.

“It’s a continuation of our commitment to managing the public’s money in as efficient a manner as possible,” said Executive Director Aaron Young at Monday’s board meeting.

This year’s budget process was conducted with more input from department heads than in previous years, park administrators said.

“They helped us save money, quite frankly,” Young said.

He sat in on meetings with each department director and helped reassess costs. He said he wanted “to eliminate the thinking of ‘This is what we got in the past, so this is what we need.’”

Of that $9.4 million in general-fund expenditures, $6.3 million is allocated for wages and salaries and $3.1 million is allocated to materials and supplies. Last year’s general-fund appropriations included $133,240 for capital improvements; this year’s budget does not include that line item.

The park does plan to spend roughly $400,000 on capital improvements this year out of its reserve fund. That figure represents 28 percent of total capital-improvement spending that’s planned for this year. The remaining $1 million will be covered by money from grants, the Mill Creek MetroParks Foundation and Friends of Fellows Riverside Gardens.

The park’s projected revenue for 2016, including carry-over funds, is $11,275,272, compared with $11,093,526 in 2015 and 11,032,557 in 2014.

“I’m pleased with the outcome. I think the directors did a fantastic job, as did [Treasurer Kevin Smith],” Young said. “I’m excited for 2016, and I’m excited that we’re going to continue to be good stewards of the public’s money.”

In other business, the board approved a change in wage rates for seasonal and part-time workers. The change, which Young recommended to the board, eliminates the step increases those workers previously received.

The change sets seasonal workers’ wages at the state-mandated minimum rate, which this year is $8.10 per hour. Part-time workers’ wages will freeze at whatever rate they currently receive.

“That wasn’t an opportunity we were providing to our full-time employees, and I didn’t feel that was appropriate,” Young said of the step increases.

He said any wage and salary changes for full-time employees have yet to be determined.

The park system is in contract negotiations with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union and soon will begin talks with the Fraternal Order of Police.

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