Spending priorities shortsighted
Perhaps some of the taxpaying citizens in Geauga County would like to “Give Feedback” to the Geauga Park District Board on this interesting fact:
The advertising budget for the Geauga Park District has ballooned from $22,147 in 2013 to a whopping $244,100 projected for 2018.
That is an increase of over $220,000 in five years.
All this with no public input. The public is no longer allowed to comment or ask questions at the public meetings. Surveys from 2008 and 2015 where more than 80 percent of respondents favoring passive recreation have been ignored.
Waste on ads is not all. The board spends more than $1.5 million to develop the new (liability land) “adventure” park at Claridon Woodlands this year. Then suddenly at the June park board meeting the board noticed that the park budget will be in the red by 2022. This not a surprise to those of us who have been tracking the spending and the “spend down” of the fund once set aside for land acquisition. But evidently the board did not choose to look at those numbers before spending the $1.5 million to create this boondoggle. Still to be counted are the costs of employees to supervise and guard the equipment plus the ongoing maintenance.
In fairness to the park board, it is hard to track the finances when you are new on the job and have no history with the parks. The judge’s constantly revolving board assures that the big picture is obscured. When park board member Andrej Lah asked what would happen if the 2019 levy failed, the answer from Park Director John Oros was that buildings would be closed, services would stop (staff would be let go) but mowing would continue. Really, see the video of the meeting on the website ProtectGeaugaParks.us
Hmmm, I wonder how long it will take before they start justifying the sale of park land to developers?
During my tenure at GPD, the District granted a conservation easement to NRCS on portions of Big Creek Park. Lands purchased with the assistance of State or Federal grants, or mitigation funds (Bass Lake, Spring Brook, Woodie Brook, others?) frequently include conditions on land use as well. Details like these tend be forgotten over the years,but can seriously impact any plans for developing, leasing or (gasp), selling park lands. If you have not done so already, I strongly recommend requesting and compiling all records of conservation easements and other land use restrictions that may apply to Park lands.