ERBM Recreation and Park District looking at ‘hard decisions’

MEEKER | Future revenue uncertainty in the face of falling tax valuations is a topic of conversation for most special districts these days, including the Eastern Rio Blanco Metropolitan Recreation and Park District.

During the May 21 monthly board meeting, board members and staff discussed what questions need to be asked and answered regarding future financial strategies for the district.

“The elephant in the room that’s driving this conversation is we don’t know what revenue or valuation is going to be,” said board president Kent Walter. “To maintain our basic level of service … what do we have control over, out of the fixed costs, and what are the most costly out of those? Annually, what are our highest costs and what decisions do we have to make to keep those costs in check?”

“Our biggest fixed cost is personnel and operations. On existing programs and operations, they have a pretty fixed cost. In our total budget, those two numbers get the lion’s share,” echoed Executive Director Sean VonRoenn. “The cost of doing business is going up. We can’t necessarily hold that line without cutting in some areas.”

“I don’t want to be doom and gloom, but what is palatable not just for year 10, but for 20 and 30? Is it sustainable? It’s tough to plan 10 years out. It could get worse or it could get better,” Walter said.

The district currently has an ending fund balance of $9.5 million.

The board agreed to schedule a work session June 11 to discuss potential changes and “hard decisions” that may need to be made that could impact employees.

The board heard requests for donations from the Meeker Chamber Plein Air event, which the district has sponsored in the past. The board agreed to consider repeating last year’s $200 donation, after discussion about where to pull that money from the budget.

The board also heard a request from the Rio Blanco County Historical Society for $1,000 toward a signage project for plaques on designated historic buildings, and informational signage for a walking tour highlighting the historic bank robbery. The board agreed on a $500 donation, as the walking tour fits with with district’s overall plan.

By Niki Turner | editor@ht1885.com