Budget cuts whittle park maintenance to one-man crews
The next time you go to a city park, bring your pruning shears and garden gloves: Park maintenance in the city is about to be dealt a $119,000 budget blow – leaving the department with one-man maintenance crews and increasing the burden on volunteers to pick up the slack.
“I’m not happy to say this, but we have inadequate resources and inadequate staffing,” Director Jim Combs told the City Council Tuesday.
Even with a department budget reduced by more than 60 percent and staffing reduced by 50 percent over the past five years, Combs said everyone in the department has done their best to keep city services afloat.
But it’s a losing battle, Combs said.
The city’s park services maintains more than 210 parks totaling more than 2,000 acres and, according to Combs, park maintenance has gone from a staff of 150 five years ago to a current staff of 70 including janitors, community center staff and park maintenance crews.
The proposed city budget calls for the elimination of two more full-time positions – staff members Combs said the department just can’t spare.
Jonathan Rewers, chair of the city Parks Commission, told council members Tuesday that the commission voted 8-2 last week to recommend the council reject the proposed Parks Department budget.
Rewers said the commission instead proposes the council look for reductions in other areas of the budget, and encourages employee unions to reconsider concessions that would make the proposed budget reductions to the parks department unnecessary.
Rewers also said the commission would like to see a November ballot initiative asking voters to approve a tax to raise revenue specifically for park maintenance.
The City Council did not take any action on the parks department budget at Tuesday’s meeting, but members will discuss the Parks Commission recommendations May 22.
Melissa Corker is a staff reporter for the Sacramento Press. Follow her on Twitter @MelissaCorker.