During the course of the City’s FY 2016/17 budget adoption process, I’ve heard a range of comments, concerns and responses from neighbors about the proposed budget. As we near completion of that process, I wanted to give an update on one area I’ve heard overwhelming concern about: the reported 2% decrease in the Parks, Recreation and Community Services (PRCS) budget. It is understandable that advocates for our Reno parks were alarmed by this, particularly given the large cuts this budget was subjected to during the Great Recession.
After reviewing the proposed budget in a public workshop, I asked staff to explain what appeared to be a decrease in the PRCS budget. Staff has reported that the reflected 2% decrease in the coming FY16/17 budget is due to a reorganization within the Parks Department. The Arts and Culture Division, and Special Events Division were merged and moved to the City Manager’s Office. Funding for those divisions was moved to the City Manager’s Office budget.
The Parks, Recreation and Community Services department will actually see an increase of approximately 9% in FY16/17 funding. This includes an additional $21,000 for athletics programs, $65,000 for parks maintenance, and $13,000 for senior citizen activities. For further explanation see Memo re: Parks, Recreation and Community Services Budget Clarification for FY17 (PDF). I have asked staff for more detail as to FY16/17 Parks program funding and will share that information when it becomes available.
As evidenced by the results from more than 6,000 citizen inputs to the “ReImagine Reno” Master Plan update, Renoites love their parks and view our city as a hub for outdoor recreation. Embracing this input, “Quality places and outdoor recreation opportunities” is one of the eight guiding principles for the plan’s update. It’s clear that parks are front and center in the developing vision for Reno’s future. Parks and Recreation infrastructure and programs are the building blocks for that vision’s attainment.
I began my community service in Reno as a member and chairman of the city’s Recreation and Parks Commission, and more recently have volunteered as a youth sports coach. Outdoor recreation was a major reason I relocated to Reno 19 years ago, and it’s top of the list for why me and my family love to call Reno home.
Despite the resurgent Reno economy, scarce revenues continue to be an operational reality for our city. We must be creative and find innovative ways to fund parks and recreation programs.
I’m proud of one such solution I’ve championed: the new City of Reno charitable license plate. There is now a way for anyone who registers a vehicle in Nevada to help support Reno’s Parks and Recreation programs by purchasing this plate. The plate will earn $25,000 in year one and a minimum of $20,000 each year upon renewal of the 1,000 plates, which is the minimum number required to maintain a specialty plate. Just think of the ongoing resources we could generate for our parks if even more people subscribed to the plate.
The power of these plates is the dedicated funding source they will provide to parks programs in our community. However, I firmly believe this money should serve as enhancement funding, and does not reduce the need for further general fund support. Learn more about the Parks, Recreation and Community Services specialty license plate and please consider purchasing one for your vehicle!
I appreciate your interest in, and advocacy for, the health of our parks- an essential ingredient for moving Reno forward. Tune into this Wednesday’s Council meeting as we further consider and adopt the FY16/17 City of Reno Budget (items F5.)