Members of the Board of Commissioners for the Great Neck Park District voted unanimously to approve the district’s proposed budget for 2020 after a public hearing at the district office on Thursday, Sept. 5.
The $19,651,324 mark for 2020 represents a decrease of slightly more than $1,000 from the district’s budget for this year, which was developed over six months with input from four public work sessions. That number was reached without increasing taxes for district residents, a feat which Park District Commissioner Robert Lincoln commended at the onset of the hearing.
“This year’s budget is one that we’re very proud of,” Lincoln said. “Once again, we’re holding the line on taxes, with no increases in real estate taxes proposed. There are a few modest fee increases but the major increase in income for 2020 comes from the program budget.”
Among the fee increases for 2020 are a $25 jump in the cost for resident public session passes at Andrew Stergiopoulos Ice Rink (now $225 for adults and $200 for children and senior citizens) and increases for a full Camp Parkwood membership of between 3 and 7 percent, depending on the specific program.
Park District Superintendent Jason Marra provided attendees with copies of the budget, and led a presentation highlighting some of the features it contained before answering questions from the audience. Marra, who has served as superintendent since 2016, said the district used the budgeting process as a sort-of audit of their operations, and focused on cutting unnecessary costs while providing services designed to recover expenses and bring in revenue.
“We use the budget time as the perfect opportunity to review the programs we offer, the facilities, how we maintain them, the level of services we provide the community, the fees we charge and just the whole picture of the park district,” Marra said. “We’re generating new revenues and focusing in on cost recovery. We want to create programs for the community that help draw revenues, so providing that service while also offsetting the expenses that go along with those.”
The district is projecting a total revenue increase of 5.4 percent across the board for next year, a figure it attributes to increases in website traffic and online registration for programs, which have generally occurred prior to in-person registrations.
While last year’s budget set aside a total of $238,700 for the purchase of operating equipment needed for building projects, the 2020 budget involves comparatively few building efforts, so only $116,600 has been budgeted for purchasing operating equipment.
The board expressed their satisfaction with the proposal to Marra, who in turn gave credit to the work his team did to put it together. The budget also brings the district one step closer to completing its master plan, which Marra said would be finished in October.
“We are doing our best for this community to offer high-quality services,” Marra said. “There’s only better things to come.”
Now that the Board of Commissioners has approved the budget, it will be presented to the Town of North Hempstead for final approval.