The St. Louis County Parks Department presented its business plan to the County Council last night, and for now, no park closures are being discussed.
Officials with the parks department said they’re doing their best to cut unnecessary expenses and uncover new revenue streams, but currently the department has a $500,000 budget shortfall for 2013.
The budget outlook could get much worse in 2014, and Parks Department Director Tom Ott said they would need to make drastic cuts without adequate funding.
That sparked questions from some council members over why the plan was built on the premise that no general revenue money would be given to the department.
Councilwoman Colleen Wasinger said after the presentation that the county can afford to pay for its parks and wants a budget proposal from County Executive Charlie Dooley that includes general tax revenue.
“I know I don’t want to see a budget like last year where he proposed to close twenty parks,” Wasinger said.
In response, Dooley said this year’s budget is still a work in progress, and it’s too soon to know how the county will spend general tax revenue.
“At some point we have to decide where we’re taking our money from but none of that’s been decided yet,” Dooley said. “But, again, we make that decision on every department not just the parks department, but on every department.”
Last year, Dooley told the council that there was a budget crisis and that more than 20 parks would need to be closed.
But it was later determined that the county did in fact have enough money to keep parks open.