Parks board looks to keep within budget in ‘09
May have to cut hours if it can’t spur attendance
ARENAC COUNTY — In a recent trend, the Arenac County parks – Oasis Lake and AuGres – have seen a drop in attendance over the past couple of years, a trend that may lead the partial closings of the recreational sites.
Arenac County Parks Board Commissioner Ron Branda says he took an average of the past five years earnings to figure the budget for 2009, which is estimated to be $40,100.
“The parks are supposed to operate within their own budget,” Branda said, adding that hasn’t been the case recently. “If they can’t then we’ll have to start closing them some of the time.”
In 2008, total attendance for both parks was 13,323, generating $37,749 in revenue, which fell short of expenses by $21,405.
One area that didn’t help matters was fuel costs, which were higher than ever this summer, reaching as high as $4.20 per gallon of gasoline and $4.87 per gallon of diesel fuel creating an expense of $3,358 last year and preventing travel to the parks.
The three biggest expenditures for the parks last year were wages; social security, workmen’s compensation and retirement; and contractual services, which accounted for 72 percent of the total costs and a dollar amount of $44,670, a total that Branda says must change if attendance doesn’t reverse.
“We’re hashing over ideas to get attendance up,” Branda said. “We (parks board) discussed some things – volleyball tournaments and bands were some of the ideas.”
The commissioner also says prices are staying the same on rental costs: $30 for a pavilion, $15 for a campground lot and $45 for a cabin; seasonal fees, $30 for a car and $15 for a motorcycle; and gate fees, $5 for in-county residents’ carloads and $7 for out-of-county residents’ carloads, $3 for motorcycles and bikes.
Branda added the board is looking for volunteers to help work at the parks.
“We’re trying to do everything we can to keep the parks going,” Branda said. “Because it’s nice to have a nice beach you can go to in the summer and it’d be a shame if we couldn’t keep them open.”
In December the Parks Board discussed the possibility of closing Oasis Lake and the AuGres park on Mondays and Tuesdays during the summer.
The next Arenac County Parks Board meeting is scheduled for Feb. 26 at 6 p.m