Warsaw parks board gives favorable recommendation to 2024 budget plan

A recent view of Warsaw City Hall News Now Warsaw photo by Dan Spalding.
By David Slone

WARSAW — With not a lot of questions, the Parks Board unanimously voted to approve the Warsaw Parks and Recreation Department’s three 2024 budgets presented by Superintendent Larry Plummer Tuesday.

The three budgets will still have to be approved by the Warsaw Common Council at their upcoming budget hearings.

The first of the three proposed budgets total $2,964,700, a 3% increase above the 2023 approved budget after cuts were made.

Of that budget, $1.21 million is for salaries and wages, reflecting a 3% increase for two salaried employees, 17 hourly employees and 28 seasonal employees and overtime. Insurance was increased by 10% to $420,000 for 2024, with $147,000 budgeted for PERF, $93,000 for FICA and $5,000 for unemployment.

Under operating supplies in the first budget, there is a line item for Castaldi Fountain salt.

“We had a $5,000 credit for some of the work done down there that we’re using for salt now, but as we’re looking it’s going to cost about $5,000-$6,000 a year for salt to run that for the whole season. We’re having very good luck with it. Before we had a filtering system that just did not get the rust out, keep the rust out, so we went to salt brine tanks,” Plummer said, adding that the two tanks seem to be doing a “fabulous” job.

Under repairs and maintenance, there’s $80,000 budgeted for asphalting and seal and striping of the basketball courts at Boggs.

“It’s been a good 20 years since we’ve redone the courts at Boggs,” Plummer said, and the courts are “really deteriorating” and “in bad shape.” He said a lot of the employees out at the industrial park use those courts during first, second and third shift. “It’s something I’d really like to bring those courts back up to standards.”

Another $30,000 in the budget is for fence replacement at Kelly Park’s courts.

Under other services and charges, $90,000 is budgeted for the big rock, country and Lakes Festival/Blues & BBQ concerts. Plummer said that includes an additional $5,000 from the previous year.

“I don’t know if $5,000 really is going to impact the quality of entertainment that we’re going to be able to get, but it might keep it in the ballpark of what we’re getting now. As sound and lights and hotel rooms and things of that sort go up, the cost of bands has just been outrageous since Covid,” Plummer said. “So we’re trying to hang on to this. We hope that we have a great blues and barbecue event coming up and, of course, the country event. When the year’s over, we’re going to evaluate all three concerts and really look hard at that. If all three of them are successful, we’re going to try to do that again. But if not, we may have to move them down to two concerts here, or something like that.”

Plummer also gave the board an update on the Zimmer Biomet Center Lake Pavilion renovation project with several photos of the work being done. The next three weeks’ schedule calls for the roofing, paint and trim work, flooring, ceiling installation and water meter and electric. He said things were moving along and it was expected to be completed by mid to late August.

Capital outlays in the budget include $65,000 for a new pickup truck and plow, $22,000 for bench replacement at Bixler Park and other equipment.

On the bench replacement, board member Jill Beehler asked, “Do you think people would donate the cost of a bench to have their name put on it if they could?”

Plummer said with the benches they were looking to have, it may not be possible but it was an idea they could entertain. The cost of the benches – including installation and concrete – was estimated to be around $2,000-$3,000 each by Plummer.

After the board approved that budget, they moved on to the proposed 2024 non reverting recreation budget, which had no increase over 2023. The budget comes from program fees that the park charges for activities and events. It’s proposed at $23,350 and was approved by the board.

The final budget approved by the board was the non reverting capital fund, proposed at $45,000 for 2024. The budget comes from rental fees generated by the Nye Youth Cabin, Fireman’s Building and kayak kiosk.

In his monthly report, Maintenance Director Shaun Gardner said the Jacob Macke family donated a Monarch butterfly way station over on Buffalo Street near the Castaldi fountain.

“Their family donated the flowers and they came and planted them. They got a sign put up there. It’s all milkweeds, stuff to attract Monarch butterflies. They registered it as a certified way station for Monarch butterflies,” Gardner said.

He said there were three beds that they planted.

“I thought that was really neat and, hopefully, it’s successful. The sign is right there, so if kids are coming from the beach over to the splash pad, they can see the sign, see what it actually is and maybe kind of get interested in that,” Gardner said.

Recreation Director Stephanie Schaefer reported the rock concert Friday with headliner Quiet Riot drew thousands of people.

This Thursday at Kelly Park is library stories, with Summer Concert Series No. 4 at Central Park Friday at 7 p.m. At Mantis Skate Park on Saturday is the Go Skate and Scoot from 4 to 6 p.m., with pizza and giveaways. Next week is Slip ’N’ Slide at Kelly Park from 4 to 6 p.m.

The blues and barbecue concert is July 7 at Central Park.

Finally, Plummer announced the exceptional team member for the month is Ben Mikel.