As I have written about repeatedly (here, here, and here), this Mayor and Council Majority have stated that they expect the Recreation Department to operate at Full Cost Recovery. That means all of the direct costs (personnel, maintenance and operations) plus all the indirect costs (a portion of City overhead for things like administration, IT, telephone etc) should be recovered through fees for programs/activities. The Mayor and Council majority set policy — and that is their job. City Manager and City Staff do what is necessary to create a budget that reflects that policy — that is their job. The budget planning process begins in earnest at the start of the year, but the emails I received don’t begin until March because the City policy is to erase all emails after 90 days. (I have chosen to use Department names rather than individuals when noting senders/recipients on emails, except for City Manager.)
March 3 7:47 pm From Recreation to program staff Subject: Revenues Attachment: Recreation 2014-15 Revenues
Hi All, Attached are the revenue projections. If you look down the sheet, you will see your areas. Please verify that these projections are correct…
If you look at Tiny Tots, second on the list, you will notice that its projected revenue for 2014/15 is ZERO. Why would that be? Because the program wasn’t going to be operating in 2014/15 and so it would produce no revenue. The follow-up email makes note of that:
March 3 8:13 pm From Community Services to its Staff Subject: Expenses by Area
At this time we are still over budget by quite a bit. Therefore, we are more than likely looking at some cuts…
You may notice that our special events — FORE and Pumpkin Run and Tiny Tots have been cut. Please remember that these budget proposals will be brought to council.
Second week in March, Recreation considered what it could receive in income by leasing out the Don Anderson Facility, which has been used exclusively for Tiny Tots.
March 11 From Community Services to Real Property Subject: RE: Don Anderson Facility
Do you know when you will have the anticipated lease earnings on the Don Anderson Community Building if we vacate it?
March 14 From Real Property to Community Services Subject: RE: Don Anderson Facility
The building is 2,897 sq ft, and at an estimated market rent of $.90/sf would produce a rent rounded to $2,600 per month…Keep in mind that it will likely sit vacant for at least 3 months while we are marketing it.
Through March, Community Services considered a variety of scenarios to save Tiny Tots, but they all required some subsidy from the City. April 9th email from Community Services lays out the final numbers on Tiny Tots.
April 9 Email from Community Services to Finance Subject: Tiny Tots Updated
The bottom line is:
Total Employee Costs + “Other” Expenses: $187,734
2012/13 Revenue $186,702
Scholarship $ issued 18,976
Total Revenue $167,726
Difference Expenses vs Revenue: ($20,188)
This is the sad story…
Two weeks later, on April 23, the Preliminary Budget was presented to the City Council. The Agenda Packet includes a short paragraph about the Recreation fund that begins: This fund has eliminated 2.5 full-time equivalent positions and has decreased their operating budget by $70,000. A $315,000 decrease in Fees for Service revenue is projected for fiscal year 2014/15. There are no available reserves in this fund. The programs within this fund will continue to be analyzed and future program reductions are anticipated…
When Councilman Gallo questioned the large decrease in Recreation fees, City Manager Phillips said: We are taking a very, very hard look at Recreation…and there are some things that are going away, programs that aren’t doing well that have costs associated with them as well. So we are taking a hard look at what the Council has directed us not to have, and that is a deficit in Recreation…
Mayor Abed was the last to speak on the budget. His remarks included this: Social services is important but you know the Council is going to make a decision. We are providing a lot of it but again we have to take care of our basic core services…
May 2 at 11:31 pm, a concerned Tiny Tots parent created the “Save Tiny Tots” Facebook page.
One hour later Community Services/Recreation received an email from Economic Development informing them of the Facebook page.
Tomorrow: The Memo that provided the information …that was used in the determination to eliminate the Tiny Tots Program…