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Government

Elmhurst Park District staff propose wage increases, capital projects for 2019 budget

Elmhurst Park District Executive Director Jim Rogers makes remarks at the Nov. 12 park board meeting regarding staff's proposal for the district's 2019 budget.
Elmhurst Park District Executive Director Jim Rogers makes remarks at the Nov. 12 park board meeting regarding staff's proposal for the district's 2019 budget.

ELMHURST – Elmhurst Park District staff presented various projections and proposals for the district's revenue and expenditures in its presentation of a proposal for the district's 2019 budget to the park board at its Nov. 12 meeting.

Park district staff have proposed 2019 revenues at $21.7 million, which is 3.2 percent higher than the 2018 budget, according to the 2019 Proposed Budget document included with the board packet for the meeting. Staff proposed a total expenditure for all funds in 2019 to be $23.9 million, which is a 3.2 percent increase over the 2018 budget, the document stated.

The overall increase in 2019 budget revenue as compared to the 2018 budget is due to increased grant proceeds, program revenue, transfers and taxes, while increased expenditures are primarily due to increased transfers from the general and recreation funds to the capital improvement fund for capital projects, the document stated.

The capital projects for 2019 include improvements at Courts Plus such as $70,465 for fitness equipment replacement, $42,000 for interior enhancements and $86,500 for pool filter replacement and whirlpool improvements; $480,000 for the Salt Creek Park Redevelopment; and $200,000 for Berens Park sled hill upgrades, including $143,635 for re-grading the slope at the Berens Park sled hill, and $127,000 for a proposed replacement of the three rooftop heating, ventilation and air conditioning units and two unit ventilators that service the registration and south office areas and a related engineering assessment at the Wagner Community Center, according to the document.

No changes are proposed for full-time staffing, but an overall increase of 4 percent, or or $71,992, in wages dispensed through the general fund over the 2018 budget is proposed, including an average merit wage increase of 2.8 percent for full- and part-time staff, according to the document. Staff would be eligible for a zero to 4 percent increase in wage based on individual performance to remain competitive with the marketplace and national trends, the document stated. The district will also add a part-time intern to its finance and human resources department at a budgeted cost of $4,000, according to the document.

Park board vice-president Kevin Graf encouraged the district's use of interns.

"Having the interns in to see the culture and to see the operations potentially drives those people back to the district potentially as a full-time replacement for someone else or a part-time looking for full-time in the future," Graf said.

Wages in the recreation fund are proposed to increase by 4 percent over last year, and life guards and swim lesson instructors will now make $10 hour and have incentives if they work more than 300 hours in a season, according to the document.

Angela Ferrentino, the district's director of facilities, said the park district will do this to ease retention and recruitment challenges, especially with teen-aged workers' competing priorities as they opt to choose summer school and other opportunities instead of working for the district, in a trend that she said has also been seen by retailers, restaurants and fast food places.

"We've got to do something, so that's why we're proposing the $10. ... Whether it's taking classes in the summer or doing unpaid internships, sports, band, they're doing everything, kind of on steroids, to get that college resume ready," Ferrentino said.

Ferrentino said in an email Nov. 14 that life guards and swim lesson instructors currently make between $8.25 and $9 hourly.

The district board and staff also discussed competition its Courts Plus fitness facility is seeing with additional small and large competitors coming into the area. The district predicts membership revenue from annual and monthly fees will decrease in 2019 due to the increased competition.

The district plans to add more yoga workshops and coaching wellness services for Courts Plus members in response, according to the document. The district also proposed Courts Plus interior facility improvements to continue the welcoming appearance of the facility, create a pleasant fitness experience, compete with local fitness facilities and reduce operating expenses, along with painting and repairs to the Courts Plus tennis area, the document stated.

Membership has decreased from about 8,000 in 2009 to about 6,200 in 2018, according to the document.

The main two reasons Courts Plus members indicate upon ending their memberships are moving out of the area and lack of use, Director of Enterprise Services Brian McDermott said.

However, Executive Director Jim Rogers said that that is just what people choose to say on exit surveys.

"We are budgeting conservatively. We are going to do everything we can to try to get that [membership trend] line to stay flat or go up, but we're trying to be realistic with what we're bringing to you," Rogers said.

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Next steps

A public hearing regarding the 2019 budget is scheduled to take place 7 p.m. Nov. 26 at the park board's meeting at the district's administrative office, 375 W. First St., Elmhurst. The board will continue its discussion of its budgetary plans at the meeting Nov. 26.

The board is scheduled to approve the budget document, tax levy and budget and appropriation ordinance and amendments at its Dec. 10 meeting.

The proposed budget is available for review at the administrative building and online at www.epd.org.

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