The Puyallup Parks, Recreation & Senior Advisory Board will hold a study session Monday to review the city’s parks and recreation department amid an ongoing budget restructuring process.
Sarah Harris, the recently appointed parks administrator, said department officials will recommend ways to make up for a recent reduction in overall funding for programs and services.
Last month the city made across-the-board cuts of $1.6 million, and the parks budget was reduced by about $236,000.
The original proposed cuts included reductions in part time staff positions, shorter Sunday hours at the recreation center and talk of eliminating the wading pool, a popular spot for Puyallup residents in the Summer. Some of those cuts are in place, and the overall reduction is under review by the parks advisory board.
Harris said that reorganization of services and reduction in office supply costs has helped minimize the cuts to programs, which is the department’s top priority.
“We’ve tried to adjust other areas,” Harris said Friday. “We’re trying to make little cuts…so the community doesn’t feel the hurt.”
Popular summer concerts were also proposed for cuts, but Harris said they have adjusted things within the department to salvage those events. She said the department is working on a sponsorship program to delegate some of the costs, and some potential sponsors have been lined up.
Monday’s meeting will allow the public to weigh in on the programs and services and allow department officials to present plans already in place to execute cost savings.
Harris said the city’s parks advisory board will likely follow up the study session with a list of recommendations for both the current and future budget cycles, a task City Manager Bill McDonald assigned to the board following announcement of the cutbacks.
Until then, she said, the department won’t have definitive answers on exact reductions down the road.
“You won’t see a dramatic drop in services,” Harris said. “And that’s the goal, to tighten the belt. Hopefully the advisory board will see we have a plan that won’t affect programs.”
The future use of the wading pool is still up in the air. Harris said they are awaiting approval of a permit from the Health Department to continue use of the popular spot through at least the summer.
She said the parks department is exploring a possible splash pad to replace the pool down the road, which would be a more cost effective alternative. Currently, the wading pool must be drained and treated every hour and a half to meet Health Department regulations.
Monday’s meeting is at 5:30 in the City Council Chambers on the fifth floor of Puyallup City Hall.
Kari Plog: 253-597-8682