Thursday, December 11, 2008

Local Budgets Look Bad

The news for Parkway funding—most of which currently comes from Sacramento County—just keeps getting worse, as a recent article in the Bee looking at the budgets for local governments for the next year reports.

It is important to remember that the Parkway is falling behind about $1.1 million annually just in maintenance, according to the American River Parkway Financial Needs Study Update 2006 (p. vii), so it is impossible to care for the Parkway up as it was intended to be cared for, let alone to improve it by adding new land and expanding its educational and recreational assets.

The solution we have proposed for stabilizing funding for the American River Parkway is to establish a nonprofit organization to contract with a Joint Powers Authority (JPA) of local government entities, to manage the Parkway and provide a supplemental fund raising capability through philanthropy, which you can read more about on our website’s news page in our press release from January 18, 2008.

This is the model being used by the Central Park Conservancy to manage Central Park in New York—and the Conservancy generates 85% of funding needed by Central Park—and the Sacramento Zoological Society to manage the Sacramento Zoo, which they have wholly done since 1997 under contract with the City of Sacramento.

Another superb example is the San Dieguito River Park in San Diego, California—an excerpt from their website:

“The San Dieguito River Valley Regional Open Space Park Joint Powers Authority, also known as the San Dieguito River Park, is the agency responsible for creating a natural open space park in the San Dieguito River Valley. The Park will someday extend from the ocean at Del Mar to Volcan Mountain, just north of Julian.

“The San Dieguito River Park Joint Powers Authority was formed as a separate agency on June 12, 1989, by the County of San Diego and the Cities of Del Mar, Escondido, Poway, San Diego and Solana Beach. It was empowered to acquire, plan, design, improve, operate and maintain the San Dieguito River Park.”

An excerpt from the Bee Article from 12/5/08.

“After the first of the year, daily life is about to change in Northern California as local governments are forced to deal with the effects of the economic downturn, likely by cutting staff, salaries or services.

“Sacramento, Placer, El Dorado and Yolo counties already are reeling from revenue shortfalls and nervously watching the state – their largest source of funding – grapple with its own money problems.

“Of the 19 cities in the four counties, more than half already project budget shortfalls for the current fiscal year that will grow next year. Others are waiting until the end of this month – after the first property tax bills come due and sales tax figures come in – to acknowledge what others already suspect: The sky is falling.

"Localities are going to have to cut services. They're going to have to make adjustments to the budgets they passed six months ago," said Megan Taylor, spokeswoman for the League of California Cities. "Residents will see changes. It may be the parks are not maintained as frequently. It may be the library has hours cut. It may be the streets are not swept as often."

“Tumultuous months are ahead, according to a Bee survey of the region's cities and counties.”