2% funds are improving parks and paying down bonds
I read with some concern Dr. Leach's opinion piece of Sunday, May 27, 2018. I appreciate his devotion to the Starkville Parks and applaud him for his active role on behalf of the parks and the importance they hold in our community.
I agree with him that we need to do much better. Let me, however, correct two significant errors which drive most of the rest of his comments.
First, the statement that the bonds for the Sportsplex have long been paid off is incorrect. These bonds to which 2% money is directed do not mature until 2027 and thus we are absolutely still paying them off and will be for another 9 years. They were and have always been 20 year bonds taken out in 2007. We did recently refinance them to achieve a better interest rate, but they continue to require the commitment of 2% funds.
Additionally we do not receive $250,000 monthly from our 2% food and beverage tax. I only wish! In the year 2017 the city received approximately $65,500 per month: a far cry from $250,000 stated by Dr. Leach.
The 2% funds are only available for capital improvements whereas the money we spend from the general fund go to salaries, utilities and maintenance. All things for which the 2% funds are not authorized. The park system in the City of Starkville receives the most in general funds behind the police and fire departments.
We have begun to implement those recommendations from the master plan. We have made changes both in personnel structure and in improvements to our various park areas. We recently added playground equipment to the J.L. King Park that was a capital expenditure of approximately $60,000. We also improved the bathroom facilities at the same park and replaced the roof on one of the pavilions there. Those are all capital improvements.
We are making improvements to the Needmore Center and have put in new flooring and resurfaced the basketball floors at the Sportsplex. We have also been working on Moncrief Park at the dog park and at the swimming pool getting ready for the summer.
As we are working through the master plan we have tried to be fiscally cautious about the improvements so as not to put mega dollars into things that will need to be torn out to implement the master plan. Regrettably that prudence makes it appear that we are doing nothing.
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