Parks department looks to make up $1.4 million shortfall with passing of levy

Jason Henry and Jason Henry

The Bowling Green Parks and Recreation department could lose up to 37 percent of its budget if a $1.4 million replacement levy fails on May 4.

The owner of $100,000 home will pay approximately $44 a year in property taxes, or $3.67 a month, if the levy passes.

The three-year levy would generate approximately $770,000 a year for Bowling Green parks.

“It is our operating levy,” said Parks and Recreation Director Michelle Grigore. “It keeps things running and keeps us able to repair structures.”

Grigore said specific cuts are not known at this time.

“We haven’t actually sat down to cut the 37 percent out of our budget,” she said. “But it would be personnel and some of the parks services that people have come to expect.”

New cuts would be in addition to cuts already made.

“We’ve cut operating hours, we’ve cut staff and our wages have been frozen for the last two years,” Grigore said. “So it isn’t like we haven’t been cutting the budget over the past four years.”

Grigore said many of the cuts have gone unnoticed because the department didn’t want reductions to affect service.

“I started raising fees and cutting some of our operating hours in 2006,” Grigore said.

Fees have increased 30 percent to 100 percent depending on the service, according to a pamphlet released by the Citizens for Bowling Green City Parks.

Since 2004, fees went from 16 percent of the budget to 38 percent in 2008.

If the levy passes, Grigore said the department might be able to accomplish a few things the public has asked for, such as new walking trails.

“We could probably squeeze those things in with the funding, but we don’t anticipate increasing spending a great deal,” she said. “The replacement levy does not bring in a lot of new money.”

Grigore said if the levy were to fail, there would be an additional chance to secure funding in the fall.

“If we have to go back in the fall, instead of a replacement, we might go back for a straight renewal,” she said. “The difference is we would be getting money based on 2004 property tax values, so we lose about $100,000 with a renewal rather than a replacement.”