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At a regular meeting Wednesday night, the Board of Directors for the Livermore Area Recreation and Park District approved the 2012-2013 operating and capital improvement budgets.
The operating budget is balanced at $16,154,172. Property tax revenue is the same as the prior fiscal year, and there will be no employee salary or benefit increases. However, there will be a one-time 3 percent retention bonus for employees to be distributed in November. The total fiscal impact is $255,000.
Also affecting the budget is a loss of $670,000 in state grant funding for subsidized childcare for the Extended Student Services (ESS) program due to state budget cuts. This is causing a change in the financial structure of ESS, which is now offering a sliding scale payment program to families losing grant funding. Of the 267 children who benefitted from the grant funds, about 150 will remain in the programs thanks to the new sliding scale payment plan. The remaining open slots will become available for full-cost enrollees who may have otherwise been on a waiting list. Many affected staff members will be redistributed to various ESS and PAL middle school sites. Staff is looking for fundraising opportunities and outside grant funding for scholarships to assist families who have lost the state support the District has received for more than 20 years.
In addition, the Board’s prior decision to cease its operation of Valley Rock Gym as of Jan. 1, 2013, is included in the budget. LARPD has operated the rock gym since January 2007. The District determined after five years of operation, the gym does not have the right financial sustainability for continued operation.
The District is also including anticipated costs in the budget to prepare for long-term maintenance and replacement needs for the new synthetic turf fields at and for the . Contributions will be made annually to a reserve fund for these future expenditures. The District’s cash reserves will be at 10.8 percent of operating costs by the end of the 2012-2013 fiscal year, with expectations of building them from savings gained from using smart water meters for parks and for more energy efficient lights at the synthetic turf fields at Robertson Park.
The capital budget of $3,669,857 includes focusing on completing existing projects, plus a few new ones. Included on Wednesday night was an upgrade to Ravenswood Historic Site — a partnership with the City of Livermore — and an expansion of the Community Garden. These were added to the list of other projects that includes land acquisition for , pond restoration and trail renovation in Sycamore Grove, a respite area and trail for Robertson Park and more. The capital budget revenues have been lower in recent years due to housing development fees continuing to be stagnant. LARPD is looking for outside funding through grants and partnerships to do more projects.
Also during the meeting, the Board approved an agreement for legal services with Legal Counsel Michael Kyle from the firm of Randick, O’Dea & Tooliatos. He has been the District’s General Counsel since 1977 and advises the district on legal aspects of policy questions and operating problems and conducts legal research in addition to other duties. The new agreement includes an increase of $100 per month for retainer, with a term from June 1, 2012, to May 31, 2014.
The Board also received an informational presentation on photovoltaic energy savings. The District periodically investigates energy saving products as a means to save funds and help develop more environmentally conservative practices. LARPD received a no-cost energy audit by Chevron’s Energy Solutions Division, which identified opportunities for photovoltaic panels at the Robert Livermore Community Center. Currently, the cost would exceed the expected life of the equipment. LARPD is taking the opportunity to install new energy efficient lighting for the synthetic turf fields at Robertson Park. The District will continue to be vigilant in looking for funding for more energy-savings options.