Hasta la vista, parks and rec
California’s budget crisis could take a big chunk out of local parks departments in unique, ugly ways. From the Auburn (Calif.) Journal:
Auburn Area Recreation and Park District officials could be forced to layoff [sic] employees and reduce maintenance at area parks if the state seizes property tax revenue from the already struggling rec district.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed suspending Proposition 1A, the 2004 measure that set up constitutional protections for local revenues. However, a provision allows the state to suspend Prop. 1A and “borrow” up to 8 percent of local government’s property tax revenue. This borrowing could continue for three years, and then must be paid back with interest.
But there is concern by many local agencies that the state will not have the resources available to pay the borrowed money back in three years.
During the district’s board meeting Thursday, directors adopted a resolution finding that a severe fiscal hardship will exist if these additional revenues are seized.
“The board unanimously agrees that through prudent management by the district staff, the residents of the district have continued to receive a sustained level of quality and performance,” said Chairman Curt Smith. “The next ‘cut’ if it occurs will affect the services and facilities we offer.”
The state’s action will cause the district to reopen its approved budget, which was already based on an estimated reduction in revenue due to the current negative economic forecast, to make cuts. These cuts could include layoffs, employee furloughs, decreased maintenance and operations and reductions in direct services to the public.
“While I feel that this (Prop 1A suspension) is an exercise in futility, I am hopeful the state will find other ways to balance their budget besides going after local property tax money,” Director Scott Holbrook said.
Gov. Schwarzenegger, looking for park district money. And Sarah Conner.
California voters on May 19 rejected a proposition backed by Schwarzenegger that would have raised taxes as a means of closing a $42 billion budget hole — well, at least by $27 billion. Not that parks and recs/youth sports is alone in getting dinged by California’s cratering economy, but this is a pretty stark example of how bad things have gotten/are getting.