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Recreation Director: We Create Plain Old Fun

Kevin Ocker says he's confident the department can operate without any cuts in service.

As Recreation director Kevin Ocker crunches the numbers to keep his budget in check, he aims to stay at the forefront of leisure activities.

"We are proud to be able to create plain old fun for our residents and for our children and adults," he said during budget talks this month.

Primary budgets include the Parks and Shade Trees and Recreation.
The Parks and Shade Trees budget request is 2.3 percent higher over the current year, up from $46,124. Most of the increase can be attributed to contractual step increases ($19,000) and higher gas and fuel pricing ($11,000). The total Parks and Shade Trees budget request with fringe benefits is $3,249,683, according to Ocker.

The Recreation budget request reflects a minimal 0.5 percent increase over this year's budget, up by just $14,155. The total Recreation budget with fringe benefits totals $3,758,364, Ocker said.

He projects general revenues generated from department camps, activities
and workshops to continue to increase in 2013/14 to approximately $514,600.

The Pool enterprise budget reflects a "cost side of $1,380,799 and includes $245,000 in depreciation; a straight cost vs. revenue without depreciation reflects a positive balance," Ocker added, while the tennis enterprise budget "does reflect an expenses exceeding revenue by about $80,000."

Steps are being taken to market the facility, he said, in order to generate revenue from times currently not utilized by the public. "It is possible that as residents use their discretion concerning leisure activities that tennis time is simply less than in years past," Ocker opined. "Reduced rates and even non-resident use is under consideration and will be reviewed by the Board of Commissioners of Cultural and Recreational Affairs."

It's been 13 months since the departments of parks and recreation became one and the merger has helped reduce overtime. Parks personnel on straight time have been assisting recreation staff, Ocker said, and as a result recreation overtime is $15,000 under budget. There's also been a 9 percent decrease in overtime for playing field preparation.

Staff took on landscaping of passive parks in the West and East, reclaiming approximately $20,000 in outsourcing costs. The grass gets cut anywhere from 14-18 times during the season and Ocker said the added maintenance was accomplished using existing staff with very little overtime.

"We thought we'd actually spend more trying to stay ahead of it," he said. "Moving the right equipment over there allowed us to do it."

Ocker said he may see a $120,000 surplus in the recreation budget but won't know for sure until May. "It's trending that way," he said.

Further, park usage continues to thrive as 2,000 soccer enthusiasts, 950 lacrosse players and 1,700 Little League baseball players all make use of Garden City's playing fields.

Ocker said new software installed in September is enabling residents to register online; approximately 1,000 residents are currently using the system. Though they cannot register for a pool membership at this time village auditor Jim Olivo said officials are working toward achieving that capability.

The Recreation department saw one resignation - a rec attendant whose position is not being filled. Ocker said he doesn't see any major attrition in the coming year but expects 5-10 percent  over the next five years.

Summer concerts at the gazebo cost approximately $,9,000 and there's a $5,550 increase in the equipment line for a new ride-on paint machine to be used at the playing fields.

"We're confident we can operate without any cuts in service," Ocker said.

Work session #3 is Thursday, 7:30-10 p.m. in the village hall boardroom. Officials intend to discuss the proposed budgets for the Department of Public Works and Administration.
LI Lawyer February 25, 2013 at 05:49 PM
Under Kevin Ocker's leadership, looks like our parks are in good hands. Parks are important to our community. The pool, the sports fields, and the playgrounds are an asset that adds to home values and enhances the attractiveness of our village for young families. Hope the Board of Trustees see the value of keeping the parks well maintained.
George February 26, 2013 at 10:36 AM
I know a lot has taken place (Irene & Sandy) but will St. Pauls field renovation project be revived?...just curious...

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