CHAPTER IX - PARKS AND RECREATION
D. PARKS AND RECREATION ADMINISTRATION
1. Administrative Organization
Parks and recreation services are provided by the City of Kalamazoo Recreation, Leisure, and Cultural Services, a division of the Development Services Department. Park maintenance is provided by the Parks and Grounds Division of the Public Works Department (Figure IX-5: Operational Plan and Figure IX-6: Organizational Structure).
A Parks and Recreation Advisory Board has been established by ordinance to act as an advisory body to the City Commission. The Board consists of seven members, each serving three-year terms, and one staff liaison. The Parks and Recreation Advisory Board meets the first Tuesday of each month or as necessary. All meetings are open to the public with notice posted beforehand at City Hall. In addition, a seven-member Senior and Handicapped Advisory Board has been established to make recommendations regarding programs and services for seniors and persons with disabilities. These two advisory boards may be consolidated into one board in the future.
The Parks and Recreation Advisory Board is appointed by the City Commission to advise the respective departments on matters related to the operation and maintenance of park facilities and seasonal programming.
The Parks and Grounds Division maintains several park and cemetery sites, and hires additional seasonal staff in the summer. The Division of Parks and Grounds has three sections (Cemetery Services, Forestry/Parks/Events, and Parks Maintenance), which report through Administration and Engineering to the Public Works Department.
FIGURE IX-5 City of Kalamazoo Operational Plan
FIGURE IX-6 Recreation, Leisure & Cultural Services Organizational Chart
The responsibility for recreation programming in the City of Kalamazoo rests with the Director of Recreation, Leisure and Cultural Services. In addition to recreation and leisure activities, this department is responsible for the operation and scheduling of the Eastside Youth Center, community service programs and special events. Recreation facilities owned by the schools are maintained by school district maintenance staff and part-time seasonal employees.
2. Parks and Recreation Funding
In the City of Kalamazoo, the Parks and Grounds Division of the Public Services Department is responsible for daily operations and maintenance of all city and community parks. Currently, the Recreation Leisure and Cultural Services operates with an annual budget of approximately $1,000,000 (Table IX-17).
a. Funding Sources
There are several existing or potential funding sources available for parks and recreation facility improvements. In addition to the General Fund, other sources of funding for parks and recreation are a dedicated millage (such as a land acquisition millage), user fees, revenue bonds, donation of land and/or easements, and contractual agreements involving privatization. Following is a brief description of current funding sources and other sources the community may consider:
General Fund. The General Fund is the basic operating fund of the two recreation divisions and the traditional source of operating funds for parks and recreation. General Fund revenues are derived from property taxes, state-shared revenues, federal grants, license and permit fees, charges for services, interest on investments, and court fines or forfeitures. Recreation program user fees are usually channeled through the General Fund.Millage. A property tax millage can be used to finance specific parks and recreation projects or for operation of recreation facilities. The dedicated millage has gained favor in many communities because voters are increasingly wary of approving millage increases for non-specified purposes. Approval by voters is required before a millage can be assessed. A millage is subject to periodic renewal by a vote of the people.
User Fees. Fees can be charged by the community to the users of specific recreation facilities or for enrollment in recreation programs. User fees can provide substantial support for park facilities. Other communities throughout Michigan have established user fees for swimming pools, tennis courts, wave pools, use of lighted athletic fields, and use of indoor facilities. User fees are a promising source of funding in the municipality if used selectively for specific facilities and services.
Bond Programs. A number of bond programs can be used to finance construction of parks and recreation facilities:
1) General Obligation Bonds
General Obligation Bonds are issued for specific community projects and may not be used for other purposes. These bonds are usually paid off with property tax revenues. A $40 million bond issue was approved for the Kalamazoo School District in 1996 for major capital improvements including improvements to recreation facilities.
2) Revenue Bonds
Revenue Bonds are issued for construction of public projects that generate revenues. The bonds are then retired using income generated by the project. For example, revenue bonds could be issued for construction of a concession and restroom facility at one of the community parks.
3) Special Assessment Bonds
Special Assessment Bonds are issued to pay for projects that benefit a particular segment of the population. For example, recreation improvements that benefit a defined subdivision or neighborhood could be financed using special assessment bonds, in which case the residents who receive the benefit would be assessed.
Michigan Department of Natural Resources Grants. Following is a summary of the two viable recreation grant programs now available through the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) for communities that have an up-to-date recreation plan:
Land and Water Conservation Fund (L&WCF). Eligible projects include community recreation and trailway improvements. These are grants of $10,000 to $250,000 to local units of government for development of facilities such as ballfields, tennis courts, playgrounds, trails and picnic areas; and including support facilities; renovation of existing facilities and retro-fitting of existing facilities to make them accessible to persons with disabilities. Funds are provided through Federal appropriations. The grant match basis is 50 percent MDNR/50 percent local. Note: The MDNR reports that no money was appropriated for Fiscal Year 1996 and is not anticipating any appropriations for Fiscal Year 1997.
Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund (MNRTF). Eligible projects include acquisition of land or rights in land for recreational uses or for protection of the land because of its environmental importance or scenic beauty, including additions to existing parks, forest lands or wildlife areas. Development of public outdoor-recreation facilities is eligible (such as picnic areas, beaches, boating access, fishing and hunting facilities, winter sports areas, playgrounds, ballfields, tennis courts, and trails). Funds are provided through sale of oil and mineral leases on State land. Local contributions equal to at least 25 percent of the project cost are required.
There is no minimum or maximum amount for acquisition projects. The minimum allowable grant for development is $15,000 and the maximum is $500,000.
There are three special initiatives approved by the Trust Fund Board of Trustees. Proposals will receive special attention if they:
- Are located within U.S. Census Bureau Metropolitan Statistical Areas;
- Increase environmental education facilities statewide; but particularly in urban areas; and
- Acquire land or develop trail ways that contribute to the development of a statewide trail network.
The first Special Initiative is new for 1996. The second two continue from previous years.
Create a Regional Recreation Authority. The Commission may wish to pursue an agreement with the surrounding municipalities to create a broader funding base. Creation of a regional authority could assist in this goal.
Community Development Block Grant. Revenues obtained through the Federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program can be used for a variety of community improvement projects, including development of recreation facilities or land acquisition for new parks or athletic fields in low and moderate income neighborhoods that qualify under the program.
Michigan Equity Grant Program. In August, 1989, Public Act 198 was signed into law, setting aside funding for regional cultural projects. Eligible project categories include cultural institutions, historical projects, zoos, convention facilities, tourism facilities, and libraries. Priority is given to projects that leverage additional public or private investment. The Equity Grant Program is administered by the Michigan State Department of Commerce. Funding for this program has been limited in recent years because of the State's budget constraints.
Donations. Businesses, corporations, private clubs, and community organizations will often contribute to recreation and other improvement programs to benefit the communities in which they are located. Private sector contributions may be in the form of monetary contributions, the donation of land, the provision of volunteer services, or the contribution of equipment or facilities.
Foundations. A foundation is a special non-profit legal entity that is established as a mechanism through which land, cash, and securities can be donated for the benefit of parks and recreation services. The assets are disbursed by the foundation Board of Directors according to a predetermined plan. Funding for recreation facilities through foundations is very limited.
Lease or Contractual Agreements. The Community may increase the availability of recreation facilities to its residents by leasing sites and facilities from other recreation providers. For example, the community could agree to help maintain school recreation facilities in exchange for guaranteed availability of the facility to the public. The Recreation department could also contract with private entrepreneurs to provide services at community-owned park facilities, such as recreation programming, food service, or facility maintenance. Privatization of services can increase recreation opportunities available to residents, while minimizing the departments administrative costs.
Public Use Conveyances. Administered by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, this program provides state lands acquired through delinquent taxes for local government units for public use. Acceptable uses of land acquired under this program include development of local parks.