The Porter County
Park Board approved the 2019 Park Department budget at its meeting Thursday,
and its budget discussions centered on event expenses.
Last year, the
County Council allocated $520,345 from the general fund and $262,193 from
the non-reverting fund for the Park Department.
This year, the
Department will ask for $578,348 from the general fund and $226,584 from the
non-reverting fund--an increase of $22,394.
Superintendent Walter Lenckos reported the changes from last year’s request.
This year’s asks for funds for part-time hourly salaries, uniforms, and
building and maintenance supplies are increasing. Some asks haven’t changed,
but the funds have been added to different line items, like the light rental
for the winter lights festival. Now it falls under the events line item, but
the amount budgeted hasn’t changed.
Other funds are
being moved based on priority. Lenckos reported that $500 allocated for
travel often goes unused, so he used those funds to propose a $500 increase
in the building and maintenance supplies line item. A major increase came in
the ask for event expenses.
Craig Kenworthy asked Lenckos about the return on those expenses. “The
amount of money we’re spending on festivals, I don’t think it’s coming back
to us. If someone could tell me these are breaking even, I’d feel better
about it,” he said.
Lenckos said the
three major festivals, Spring Out to Sunset, Prairie Magic, and Winter
Lights, have been attracting more visitors to the parks, and they pay for
themselves combined with other income. Last year, $34,500 was allocated for
events. This year, Lenckos proposed asking the County Council to allocate
$67,700. Lenckos said the three festivals will have a projected income of
$53,000, and income generated from park field trips alone will provide the
$15,000 to cover the remaining cost of the event line item. The Park
Department also has guaranteed income from leasing farmland at Brookdale and
Aukiki parks and money that Dunes Tourism shares with them each year. Summer
camp fees are projected to be 36 percent of next year’s income, and rentals
will make up 26 percent, according to Lenckos.
Citing Board member
Drew Armstrong’s comments last meeting about badly needed maintenance to a
road and a building at Sunset Hill Farm Park, Kenworthy said, “I have
problems throwing this much money at events when we have these problems over
here that we don’t know if we’re gonna get the money for.”
Lenckos said 2018
funds can be used to address Armstrong’s concerns