Parks department may axe 55 jobs

Tuesday, November 10, 2009 at 1:49pm

Eliminating 55 Metro Parks positions and indefinitely closing up to five community centers are steps the parks board may take to address an expected $1.77 million 2010 budget deficit.

Even if the parks department pursues all proposals, a gap of $227,000 would remain, leaving the seven-member board perhaps weighing future measures to ease the shortfall.

Measures, described as options not recommendations, came out of a special parks meeting Tuesday, a week after Metro Finance staff began working alongside the parks department to produce deficit-cutting ideas.

The board is expected to consider these and potentially other steps at another work meeting Friday at 2 p.m.

“They’ve laid out now a number of options,” Metro Finance Director Richard Riebeling said. “Some are very painful and some I can frankly say we won’t recommend be implemented. But what they are yet, we have to go through it and dig in it.

“I’m guessing it will be some combination of some of these cuts plus a recommendation for supplemental appropriations,” he said.

Proposed job cuts, which would impact a combination of full-time, part-time and vacant positions, include eliminating four recreation leaders and four support staff members at regional community centers, as well as three instructors and a museum specialist at Fort Negley.

Community centers that could be closed are Cleveland, Kirkpatrick, West, Watkins and McCabe, which would force 14 layoffs. 

Metro Parks Director Roy Wilson told the board that services have increased in the last five years, yet its $28 million budget is less than it operated at seven years ago. He suggested the department look at implementing fees for certain services to bring in additional revenue.

Wilson, under fire since his department’s budget overrun surfaced, declined comment following the meeting.

Emily Evans, one of four Council members to attend the meeting, pointed out while Wilson’s accounting practices led to a budget overrun, his department also produced revenues greater than had been projected, a feat she called “heroic” given the ongoing economic downturn.

“The total picture, which goes more to the management of the department, looks at both the expenses and revenues,” Evans said. “Through solid management and good practices they brought in more revenue than was anticipated in a very difficult period of time.” 

Wilson is scheduled to go before the Metro Council’s Budget and Finance Committee Nov. 16.

10 Comments on this post:

By: Kosh III on 11/10/09 at 2:32

Community Centers should be the LAST thing to be cut.

It says there are other cost cutting steps. What are they?

By: TNReader on 11/10/09 at 4:20

One of the 55 terminations should be Mr. Wilson.

By: idgaf on 11/10/09 at 5:00

We just built the Community centers now we don't have the people to run them. Same thing happened with the libraries. These people have a building fetish.

By: bfra on 11/11/09 at 2:59

The first termination should be Wilson! Secon, third and on down, the ones that put him in this position, whatever dept. they work for.

By: bfra on 11/11/09 at 3:00

Add a "d" to Secon, before the spell checkers get up!

By: dooley on 11/11/09 at 4:26

Don't blame Wilson . He has shown that he wants to serve the people. Blame the metro council and Mayor for throwing away all the tax dollars on consultants and favorite rip off artists in the development of sink holes for our tax money for un- wanted and un- needed projects.

By: dooley on 11/11/09 at 4:29

bfra , you can rest assurred that the "spell checkers" that have nothing else to say will come into play early. One time idgaf cautioned me that I had spelled rong rong.

By: dooley on 11/11/09 at 4:30

I agree Kosh . the community centers should be the very last to go.

By: frank brown on 11/11/09 at 7:05

I can remember as a child spending time at the McCabe Park community center. This was one of the stable parts of my childhood. If it were I on the the Park board the community centers would not be touched. I would suggest that you reduce some of the 989 park police cruisers that chew up gasoline at 2.50 a gallon. I hardly think that a few of them will be missed.

By: BigPapa on 11/11/09 at 8:02

I'm always amazed that in government when it comes time to eliminate positions they start at the bottom. Sure get ride of 5 $20,000 employees rather than 2 $50,000, or 1 $100,000...