Carson City ice rink among concerns in tight budget
The Parks and Recreation Commission on Tuesday wrestled with reconciling Carson City’s Parks Department projects with its tight budget.
Discussion started with a review of the Arlington Square Ice Rink downtown.
The ice rink’s budget in 2016 was about $77,000 and is ending the year with $64,000 in expenses with some invoices still outstanding, Meagan Soracco, recreation program manager, told the commission.
But the rink, located in a parking lot at the southwest corner of Robinson and Carson streets downtown, eats up an additional $38,000 that’s absorbed by the Recreation, Facilities and Public Works departments in staff time to start up and tear down the rink in November and February.
In addition, the rink is currently equipped with all used equipment and much of it will wear out in the next few years.
The dasher boards, for example, the boards that enclose the rink and create a barrier to keep skaters in, need to be replaced to the tune of $55,000, Scott Fahrenbruch, director of operations, told the commission.
“It is a tough issue for us. We don’t want to give up anything because of it all brings value to the community,” said Commissioner Lori Bagwell. “What really is the priority? Would we pick a playground over the ice rink? We don’t take the time to do that. It’s going to be hard decisions, but the money is not there to do everything.”
The ice rink item was for discussion purposes only and no action was taken by the commission.
“We might look at alternatives. Look at getting a private contractor to run it,” said Roger Moellendorf, parks and recreation director. “This is a good exercise for the commission.”
Another long discussion involved the parks and recreation department’s request for supplemental funding as part of its 2017 proposed budget submission.
Those supplemental requests are $68,225 to reinstate a parks coordinator position in the parks division, $34,944 to fund two seasonal positions, $16,563 to reclassify a parks and cemetery coordinator, and $2,000 for travel and training.
Bagwell asked Fahrenbruch which was a greater priority, the coordinator position or the seasonal hires.
“We want both,” he said.
“There isn’t a world where that is going to happen,” said Bagwell, who’s also a city supervisor.
Commissioner Brett Long said all the supplemental requests were legitimate department needs.
“It makes sense to me to recommend them to the Board of Supervisors and leave it up to them to prioritize them,” said Long. “That’s ultimately their job.”
After more discussion, the commission agreed to recommend to the board of supervisors the department’s budget and supplemental requests, ranked in order starting with the parks coordinator job followed by training and the two seasonal positions.
The vote was unanimous with Commissioner Donna Curtis absent. “This is an amazing discussion you’re having,” Moellendorf told the commission. “It is one of the better budget discussions I’ve had since being in parks and rec.”
It’s also Moellendorf’s last budget discussion. He and Fahrenbruch announced they are both retiring, signaling a major change in the department.
Fahrenbruch’s last day is April 14 and Moellendorf finishes on May 31. Moellendorf is assisting the city to find his replacement. Fahrenbruch’s position will be left vacant until the new director is in place and ready to hire his own deputy.
All the commissioners sung the pair’s praises.
“We wish you all the best in you retirement,” said Commission Chair Lee-Ann Keever.
The commission also unanimously approved:
The conceptual design for the disc golf course complex project located off Flint Drive and Rifle Range Road;
A motion to consider a property exchange with W. Michael Fagan for 20 acres of land he owns at Highway 50 and the Clear Creek interchange for a vacant park between Karin Drive and Sunland Court;
And a recommendation the supervisors to approve the Management Plan for Carson City Open Space and Parks in the Carson River Area.