Eliminating 55 Metro Parks positions and indefinitely closing up to five community centers are steps the parks board may take to address an expected $1.77 million 2010 budget deficit.
Even if the parks department pursues all proposals, a gap of $227,000 would remain, leaving the seven-member board perhaps weighing future measures to ease the shortfall.
Measures, described as options not recommendations, came out of a special parks meeting Tuesday, a week after Metro Finance staff began working alongside the parks department to produce deficit-cutting ideas.
The board is expected to consider these and potentially other steps at another work meeting Friday at 2 p.m.
“They’ve laid out now a number of options,” Metro Finance Director Richard Riebeling said. “Some are very painful and some I can frankly say we won’t recommend be implemented. But what they are yet, we have to go through it and dig in it.
“I’m guessing it will be some combination of some of these cuts plus a recommendation for supplemental appropriations,” he said.
Proposed job cuts, which would impact a combination of full-time, part-time and vacant positions, include eliminating four recreation leaders and four support staff members at regional community centers, as well as three instructors and a museum specialist at Fort Negley.
Community centers that could be closed are Cleveland, Kirkpatrick, West, Watkins and McCabe, which would force 14 layoffs.
Metro Parks Director Roy Wilson told the board that services have increased in the last five years, yet its $28 million budget is less than it operated at seven years ago. He suggested the department look at implementing fees for certain services to bring in additional revenue.
Wilson, under fire since his department’s budget overrun surfaced, declined comment following the meeting.
Emily Evans, one of four Council members to attend the meeting, pointed out while Wilson’s accounting practices led to a budget overrun, his department also produced revenues greater than had been projected, a feat she called “heroic” given the ongoing economic downturn.
“The total picture, which goes more to the management of the department, looks at both the expenses and revenues,” Evans said. “Through solid management and good practices they brought in more revenue than was anticipated in a very difficult period of time.”
Wilson is scheduled to go before the Metro Council’s Budget and Finance Committee Nov. 16.