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District to tuck away $3.3M until 2011 state funds clear up
Wednesday, December 8, 2010 02:52 AM
By Mark Ferenchik
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
Metro Parks officials say questions about state funding and property-tax collections are forcing them to delay improvements, land acquisitions and new hires next year. The Metro Parks board recently approved its 2011 budget of $39.9 million. That’s about 13 percent more than the $35.3 million the district is on track to spend this year after voters approved a tax increase last year. However, Executive Director John O’Meara said Metro Parks might spend only $35 million next year. “We’ll be able to take care of what we have,” he said. Employees still will receive average raises of 2.4 percent, with merit raises as high as 3 percent and bonuses of $1,000 for outstanding evaluations. O’Meara’s salary will increase 2.6 percent, to $155,000. Franklin County voters passed a 10-year, 0.75-mill property tax last year, up from the 0.65-mill tax in effect the preceding decade. But the state faces a potential $8billion deficit in its two-year budget due June30, and O’Meara and board members fear a big cut in local-government funds. This year, the district received $4.1 million from the state’s local-government fund and $1.3 million in state grants, totaling about 16percent of Metro Parks’ funding from public sources. Metro Parks anticipates $2 million from the state’s local-government fund next year’¦ http://www.dispatchpolitics.com/live/content/local_news/stories/2010/12/08/copy/metro-parks-awaits-budget-pinch.html?adsec=politics&sid=101
With that in mind, the district will hold off on $3.3 million in improvements and operating expenses until at least the second half of the year, when Metro Parks officials will know what their state funding looks like.