Increase in Parks and Rec budget could benefit Sports Center

Posted: Sunday, March 03, 2002

The Soldotna Sports Center may do some upgrading. Not to the facility, but to the staff.

Thanks to a new ordinance passed at Wednesday night's Soldotna city council meeting and a bid for an increase in the city Parks and Recreation budget for 2003, the Sports Center could get additional help with general upkeep and maintenance.

The measure will immediately add $4,680 to the the remainder of the 2002 Parks and Recreation budget, allowing for extra staff hours to complete tasks such as sweeping the floors and garbage disposal on a daily basis. And next year's budget could be increased by $20,000, giving Soldotna Parks and Recreations Director Andrew Carmichael room to add to the staff during peak times at the sports center.

Carmichael said the funding increase gave him time to do a full motion assessment to determine just how long it takes to do all the maintenance and janitorial tasks at the center. He said the staff had been logging 56 total hours per week in the day-to-day upkeep, and the assessment found that another 38 were needed.

An increase would go a long way in keeping sports center patrons satisfied with the center's services, he said, and the assessment was what he needed to show that to the council.

"The additional (money) will make it easier on the staff," he said. "Right now, we've got guys working their brains out. They won't be pulled away from those maintenance tasks to get to janitorial duties."

From late August to the beginning of April, he said the sports center operates the ice rink full time, meaning there are more people using the facility.

"When hockey was going this year, we had someone there from 4:30 in the morning to 12:30 a.m.," Carmichael said.

Originally, the ordinance was devised to make supplemental budget adjustments to city funds reflecting adjustments to mid-year revenues and expenses. But the council amended it to include the appropriation for the sports center, as well as a more than $51,000 repayment to the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities for a water line installed under the Kenai Spur Highway.

Carmichael said limited funding has caused a need to prioritize tasks. At the top of that list of priorities is sanitizing the rest rooms.

"High school games takes two to four hours to clean bleachers" he said. "If you don't have bodies to make available, do you sanitize the sinks or do you clean bleachers? We've had to choose health issues over aesthetics."

Other, more labor intensive tasks, he said, have had to be spread out over a greater period of time.

"Right now, we do it if it needs to be done," he said. "With this addition, we hope to be able to do everything, all the time."

This includes polishing the stainless steel fixtures in the restrooms and on water fountains, and stripping and polishing floors. But more funding will allow for these jobs to be done more often.

"It costs $568.38 in total labor and equipment to strip and wax the floors once," Carmichael said. "Where that is done twice a year (now), we will be able to do it three or four times. Stuff we do once a week, we'll do two or three times a week."

City Manager Tom Boedeker said he would recommend the increase to a 2003 Parks and Recreation budget already anticipated to be $120,000. He said the options for the city seemed clear.

"You can go back to what we had," he said, "and (not) spend as many hours and have complaints. Or, you could appropriate the monies needed. Even with the increased amount of service, we will still be under the national average for a facility of its size."

City department heads turn in their bare figures for budgeting today. Budgets will go through the approval process, which won't be completed before June 15, before taking effect.

In other news from Wednesday night's council meeting:

Mayor Dave Carey named appointees to the Soldotna Cemetery Task Force. Members of the task force include chair and former council member A. Kearlee Wright, council member Lisa Parker, historical society members Katherine Parker and Colleen Fassler, Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly member Pete Sprague, Planning and Zoning Commissioner Dick Troeger and Billie Gilliland. Barbara Jewell and Brandi Oleson were named as alternates.

The task force will explore the options for establishing a cemetery in Soldotna and will return its findings to the council by June 1.

The council awarded a contract for supply and installation of restroom counters at the Soldotna Sports Center to Blazy Construction of Soldotna in the amount of $11,188. Another contract was awarded to Spenard Builders Supply to furnish and deliver restroom partitions for the sports center for the price of $6,833.38.

The council confirmed the appointment of Tim Cashman as the council's representative on the employee relations board.

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