Parks fees may rise to pay for cleaning 

The City’s parks will be cleaner and safer this year, but it might cost park users more money.

The Recreation and Park Department gave a public presentation Wednesday evening of their proposed $162 million budget for the 2007-08 fiscal year — which will begin in July.

In her presentation, Katharine Petrucione, the department’s director of finance and administration, suggested increasing the number of custodians, gardeners and park rangers but also raising and changing certain fees and cutting vacant positions.

"Although our revenues are growing, our expenses are growing at a faster rate," Petrucione said.

To help balance revenues against expenses, Petrucione suggested creating new application fees and raising permit and reservation fees by $250,000 at heavily used sites such as Sharon Meadow, Union Square and Civic Center Plaza. She also suggested creating new fees for existing programs such as Futsal, an indoor soccer program, and tiering certain program fees, such as children’s arts programs, to generate profit.

New events, such as a proposed triathlon at Camp Mather, are also estimated to bring in an additional $75,000 next year.

As for reductions, the department suggested eliminatingup to 17 vacant but still funded assistant recreation director positions that cost an additional $750,000 to $1 million a year. Assistant recreation directors are more commonly known as recreation center staff members and help to oversee programs at the centers.

In terms of department enhancements, Petrucione suggested adding 10 new gardeners at a cost of $740,000 a year, five new custodians at a cost of $300,000 a year and establishing scholarship fund seed money with $300,000 so that low-income citizens could still participate in the department’s programs that require a fee.

There was also talk about making The City’s six part-time park rangers full-time at a cost of $155,000. Petrucione said a group of 10 full-time rangers would cost $670,000 if hired.

"The enhancements are our priority," Recreation and Park Department General Manager Yomi Agunbiade said.

Isabel Wade, executive director of the Neighborhood Parks Council, said her organization was hoping the department would retain key maintenance staff.

The Recreation and Park Commission will decide on the proposed budget by Feb. 15 and will then submit it to the Mayor’s Office on Feb. 21. The Board of Supervisors will ultimately approve the final budget on June 1.

eeconomides@examiner.com

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