By Katie Dahlstrom
Herald Staff Writer
Parks and Recreation department officials will propose community sponsorships for their facilities and programs in order to offset city costs for the department in fiscal year 2014.
Parks and Recreation Department Director Gregg Obren said his department will embark on the first year of a sponsorship and marketing program in order to decrease the subsidy the recreation department receives from the city. Sponsorship dollars also could be used to increase the amount of services, but Obren said it’s up to the City Council to decide the parameters and focus of the program.
“It comes down to what level of service though subsidy does any organization want?” Obren said. “But ultimately that’s a policy decision from the council.”
The Recreation Department’s total expenditures for next year are predicted to be $713,000 with $463,000 in revenue including $30,000 in hopeful sponsorships. The city supports the difference between revenue and expenditures with general fund dollars.
“We need to continuously look at options for securing revenue,” Interim City Administrator and Finance Director Jessica Kinser said. “This is looking outside the big picture of our revenue streams. I would say it’s a good thing.”
The Recreation Department offers adult and youth sports leagues in softball, operates the city’s parks and offers community classes, summer programming and a slew of other services to Clinton.
The first year goal of $30,000 in sponsorships would be able to support any of the programs throughout the recreation department. Obren said his department would be open to sponsorships involving a banner in the outfield of a baseball diamond, someone paying the cost of rights to show a movie in a park or other advertising based ideas. The idea of a sponsorship on the level of naming facilities, Obren said, would be more of a policy decision to be discussed by the council. It’s also not something he wants to consider in the near future.
“When you’re talking about naming a facility and putting an advertisement up, those things may be parallel, but they’re not the same,” Obren said.
Another bridge Obren’s not sure he wants to cross deals with the Riverview Swimming Pool, which has some community members concerned about the short season. The pool is slated to be open from May 28 to Aug. 11 this year. The idea of keeping the 50-meter pool open until Labor Day has been floated, with sponsorships to fund the extended season. However, Obren said revenues dramatically drop once the pool’s main patrons, school-aged children, are back in class. While the cost of staffing the pool would decrease if the number of patrons decreased, the cost of operations, including the roughly $877 a week to filter and treat the pool, would still need to be covered. Other costs such as electricity and minimal staffing would also need to be paid.
Obren estimates the total cost of running the pool for one week while school is in session would be $3,000. A potential sponsorship would need to cover this cost, at least.
“Say a group wants to rent the pool for a day. Well the pool still has to be open the rest of that week and that’s a huge expense,” Obren said. “Do we have enough revenue to make up those expenses? The answer is ‘no.’”
City Council members have yet to address the sponsorship and marketing program. Once they do, appropriate sponsorships and what the cost of each should be will need to be discussed also.
Obren will deliver the Recreation Department budget presentation during the City Council’s budget workshop on Monday.