Great Neck Park District adopts 2018-19 budget

Janelle Clausen
Great Neck Park District Superintendent Jason Marra explains the proposed budget for the Great Neck Park District. (Photo by Janelle Clausen)
Great Neck Park District Superintendent Jason Marra explains the proposed budget for the Great Neck Park District. (Photo by Janelle Clausen)

The Great Neck Park District adopted a $19.65 million budget featuring a boost in programming and revenue on Thursday night, setting the stage for its final approval by the Town of North Hempstead later this year.

This year’s budget of $19.65 million is about 3.5 percent higher than the current budget, which is about $18.99 million – or a difference of $656,389.

The Great Neck Park District meanwhile expects to keep taxes flat at $11.99 million, according to the budget, and projects about $5.5 million in revenue from its programs – an increase of more than $100,000 from this year’s $5.39 million.

Fund balance use, meanwhile, is budgeted at $2.15 million compared to the current $1.6 million – a difference of more than $500,000.

Jason Marra, the superintendent of the park district, said that the administration is very proud of the budget that was crafted this year because of it holds the line on taxes and sets the park district on a good path for the future.

But it also shows how far the district has come with its budgeting, Marra said, with cost increases between years – factoring in revenue – being reduced from over $1 million in 2014 to only $190,628 in 2017.

“We’re proud of what we’ve accomplished since ’17, what we’re doing ’18, and [how] we’re setting ourselves up for the future,” Marra said. “We’re proud that we’re not increasing taxes, we’re very pleased that we’re offering new programs that’ll generate revenue that offsets the cost and also provides a service for the community.”

Commissioner Robert Lincoln said he attributed the budget’s successes to the growth of its program, careful analysis, cutting costs and being able to do capital projects in-house rather than with contractors.

“It all adds up,” Lincoln said.

The Great Neck Park District includes six villages, a number of unincorporated areas, and more than 260 acres worth of parks – the bulk of which are in Kings Point. It also hosts more than 80 programs in areas like ice skating, tennis, sailing and swimming.

Marra said there are a number of programs and initiatives generating high return on investment.

In parking, for example, related costs are budgeted to rise from $47,105 to $54,330 because of new part-timers. But revenue is also projected to rise from $361,900 to $385,800, on top of $137,260 expected for rental and fines.

The park district also expects the Andrew Stergiopoulos Ice Rink to overtake indoor tennis and Camp Parkwood as its biggest revenue generator, according to the budget, following the addition of private lessons, more teams and new programs.

Skate school participants breached 1,300 for the first time, according to park district statistics, with 1,356 participating in 2017-18 compared with 1,251 the year before, and 1,122 in 2015-16.

The ice rink’s budget is slated to rise from $1.35 million to $1.67 million, while it’s revenue is expected to rise from $992,041 to $1.24 million.

The tennis center’s budget would rise slightly from $1 million to $1.02 million, the budget proposal shows, while its revenue is projected to decline from $1.05 million to $1 million.

Summer tennis camp registrants rose sharply, however, from 116 in 2017 to 145 in 2018, following a steady uptick from 2014.

Camp Parkwood’s budget would remain largely the same around $1 million, while revenue is projected to fall from $1.2 to $1.1 million, which Marra attributed to a “tremendous amount of competition” rising in the area.

Parkwood Pool’s proposed budget is slated to decrease from $1.31 million to $1.23 million and revenue is expected to dip a bit from $763,000 to $740,315. Marra said they hope to do more to attract families and seniors to the pool.

The Park District also plans to increase its budget for its marina and dock from $372,140 to $488,893, officials said, in order to attract more people to their marina center and into their sailing programs.

There are also a number of proposed capital projects like setting up a $50,000 security camera system at Steppingstone Park, $100,000 worth of improvements for Manor Park, upgrading the district’s online presence, and $100,000 for the gazebo in Firefighter’s Park.

At the end of the day, Lincoln said it comes down to providing for the community.

“It’s more than just numbers,” Lincoln said, “it’s about services.”

Additionally, the Great Neck Park District intends to create a master plan to map out the next five to ten years for projects and priorities.

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