Parks Department Officials Worried About Proposed Budget (VIDEO)

Montgomery Parks staff is asking for the community’s help to advocate for more funding for parks. This comes following County Executive Ike Leggett’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 proposed budget for the parks department of roughly $93.2 million which is $4.3 million less than what the Montgomery County Planning Board asked for.

“Cutting that $4.3 million cuts back on the services we can deliver next year,” said Mitra Pedoeem, deputy director of administration, Montgomery Parks.

Projects such as maintenance of ball fields, creating space in urban parks for largely populated areas, and American with Disabilities Act (ADA) enhancements will be reduced if not eliminated without at least $2 million more dollars, according to Pedoeem.

While Leggett’s recommended FY 18 budget for the park department is a three percent increase compared to last year, Pedoeem said it’s not enough due to prior contractual agreements such as paying retiree benefits and park maintenance.

“We’ve been able to tighten our belt to take care of $2.3 million of that deficiency we have without actual cuts to programs,” Pedoeem said. “We can offset some of that costs by pre-paying for things ahead of time like buying some materials and paying out contracts and debt services ahead of time to create some savings.”

Staffers have created an advocacy page on the park’s website as a “how-to-guide” for residents to voice their concerns of the park’s recommended budget to the County Executive and County Council.

The County Council will hold worksessions starting April 17 to discuss changes to the proposed budget.

“The Council will take the public’s input into consideration during the worksessions before they reach an agreement on budget,” said Neil Greenberger, spokesperson for the Montgomery County Council.

The council must approve a budget by June 1.

Mitti Hicks

About Mitti Hicks

Mitti Hicks is a multimedia journalist and community engagement specialist with Montgomery Community Media. She is passionate about telling stories that impact our community and may be reached at MHicks@mymcmedia.org and on Twitter @mittimegan.

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