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Budget woes take tolls on parks

Expansions on hold at Central Park, community center, gym

Posted: June 4, 2009 10:04 p.m.
Updated: June 5, 2009 8:30 a.m.
 
As the final tweaks are put on Santa Clarita's budget for the next year, cuts in the area of parks are less about reductions of service than they are about withholding certain new features, according to the city's financial guru.

"It's not that citizens will see less in terms of services, but they won't get (some new things)," City Treasurer Darren Hernandez said of the roughly $20 million budget for parks, recreation and community services.

On hold, for example, are expansions at Central Park, a Canyon Country community center and expansion of the gym at the city's activity center.

While those three projects would be funded with capital improvement dollars, Hernandez said putting them on hold also saves the parks department about $3 million in annual maintenance-related costs.

The parks department expenditures are expected to top out at $20.4 million for the 2008/09 fiscal year, Hernandez said. The projected budget for the coming 2009/10 year is $19.9 million.

The parks, recreation and community services budget represents about 25 percent of the city's general fund, Hernandez said.

Over the last several months city officials have been working out a budget, taking into account the current recession.

In addition to putting some projects on hold, 20 empty positions are frozen, with workloads being shifted to existing employees.

"The community won't see a change in service," Hernandez said Thursday.

On Thursday evening, the parks, recreation and community services commission received a presentation on the 2009/10 budget, which is set to be adopted June 23, going into effect July 1.

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