Cuts in park services may be inevitable next year, as the county works to close a $169 million budget deficit across all agencies, but the Fairfax County Park Authority Board is working to minimize the impacts to the greatest extent possible.
On Wednesday, the board agreed to submit proposed budget reductions amounting to approximately 2 percent of the authority’s funding from the county, about $539,000. The authority also supports some of its programs with revenue from user fees.
This submission is part of a county exercise in which all agencies were asked to outline a plan for how they would handle a 5 percent budget reduction in fiscal 2014 and 2015. County budget staff and County Executive Ed Long will use that information to craft the proposed county budget in February.
The park authority was allowed to limit its reduction to 2 percent because it pledged to invest some of its money in complying with Americans with Disabilities Act requirements, according to Park Authority Board Chairman William Bouie. The county and the U.S. Department of Justice reached a settlement agreement in 2011 to make more county facilities ADA compliant.
Although the parks board is trying to maintain services as much as possible, any cuts at this point will have an impact on services, Bouie said.
“Any cuts at this point, we’re cutting to the bone,” Bouie said. “We are eliminating some positions that we’ll never get back.”
The Park Authority assembled a financial sustainability plan as the county budget picture began getting more challenging, Bouie said. Now, the Park Authority Board needs to hear from the Board of Supervisors what their long-term vision for the park system is, he said.
“We need to get a description from them of what they think is core to the parks’ mission,” Bouie said, so the authority can prioritize those services as belt-tightening continues.