Parks commission approves 2022 budget

Thursday, December 16, 2021
ES Parks and Rec

The Eureka Springs Parks and Recreation Commission approved its 2022 budget at a special called meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 7.

Commissioner Carmen Burden kicked off the meeting by making a motion to approve the budget and commissioner Jonathan Teigen seconded the motion. When the commission moved into discussion, commissioner Susan Hubbard said she had several questions about the budget.

Hubbard mentioned that there are several items in the 2021 budget that weren’t expended and asked how that money is handled in the 2022 budget. Director Scott Miskiel said those items are moved into the 2022 budget. An example of that, Miskiel said, is the proposed purchase of a new maintenance vehicle. He couldn’t find a truck at the price set in the budget, Miskiel said, so that money wasn’t spent in 2021.

“We have requested it again. As long as it’s in this year’s budget, then we’ll spend it this year,” Miskiel said. “If it’s not in this year’s budget, then I’d have to come request approval of it on a single transaction basis.”

Hubbard said the cost of projects not completed in 2021 totals around $120,000 and asked if those funds will cover the projects in the 2022 budget.

“This is money that’s left over that wasn’t spent,” Hubbard said.

“That money just ends up staying in the reserve accounts that we have and can be drawn on,” Miskiel said. “That’s why we have reserves of a few hundred thousand dollars. We’re aware we’ve got some large projects coming up. That just ends up on our balance sheet as an asset and is available for future purchases.”

Hubbard asked if there’s enough money in the reserves account to cover upcoming projects and Miskiel said no.

“I don’t think we have nearly enough for some of the big projects we have coming up — the dam railing, repairs to the road, hopefully a remodel of the bathhouse, Basin Park,” Miskiel said. “There’s some huge projects we have that are going to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. If we were going to do them all today, we wouldn’t have the reserves to cover all of those.”

Hubbard said many of those big projects are not included in the 2022 budget and Miskiel said that’s because he won’t get an estimate on how much each project will cost until he sends out a request for proposals.

“It’s all going to depend on what projects come up,” Miskiel said, adding that he’s working on two requests for proposals for the dam railing and Basin Park. “Once we start getting input, figuring out what those projects are going to cost, we’re going to look at those one at a time, look at the reserves and find out which projects are going to be funded first.”

Miskiel said the commission has been planning for those projects for quite some time. There’s more than $400,000 in the reserves account, Miskiel said, and he’s been making decisions about repairs with the reserves account in mind. For example, Miskiel said, the commission could have spent $100,000 on road repairs but only focused on the most needed areas for $20,000.

“We had to decide what was the minimum we could use to take care of the biggest problems,” Miskiel said. “We do have some reserves and that’s a good thing and those reserves are specifically with the understanding that you’re eventually going to eat into those for some of these projects we’re anticipating.”

“So if we spend those reserves and we have another big emergency, does that leave us with any cash?” Hubbard asked.

Miskiel said he’s planning to use around $145,000 from reserves in 2022, and that would still leave a significant amount of money in the reserves account. Hubbard said the commission needs to budget carefully.

“This is a time for us to be lean, because we do have a lot of big expenses coming up,” Hubbard said. “We know we’re already going to be overspending. We need to look to see if there are things we can cut back on.”

Miskiel said he met several times with commission chair Kevin Ruehle and compromised on the budget presented to the commission.

“There are things that I wish were on here that aren’t and likewise with Kevin,” Miskiel said.

Miskiel said all the income estimates in the budget are conservative, so the commission should bring in more revenue than projected. Miskiel added that he expects to receive grant money to cover certain projects like the Leatherwood Creek bridge, so the commission could end up saving the $30,000 in the budget for that project.

“If we didn’t get the grant, is the proposal still to build a bridge?” Hubbard asked.

“What would likely happen if we get a grant and we don’t spend that $30,000, then that’s just $30,000 not spent and if it’s not spent on something else, it ends up in reserves,” Miskiel said.

Hubbard said she wasn’t sure about spending money on the bridge if the grant doesn’t come through and Miskiel said the project would total $110,000. The commission has already received a grant to cover $80,000 of the project, Miskiel said, and he recently heard that the remaining $30,000 will be covered as well.

Hubbard said she wasn’t familiar with the project but understood better once Miskiel explained the grant opportunity and total cost.

Later in the meeting, Ruehle said the commission needed to add $15,000 to the special events line item to cover the Fat Tire Festival. Ruehle said the commission was committed to host the festival before most of the current commissioners came on. Burden moved to add $15,000 to the budget for the festival and the commission unanimously agreed to do so.

The commission then voted unanimously to approve the 2022 budget.

The commission’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 21, at the Auditorium.

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