The city's Parks and Recreation Department came under scrutiny at a special workshop conducted by the Helena-West Helena City Council Tuesday evening.
The city's Parks and Recreation Department came under scrutiny at a special workshop conducted by the Helena-West Helena City Council Tuesday evening. "The Parks and Recreation Dept breaks down to 4 full-time employees and 5 part-time employees," commented City Council Member Don Etherly. “When you look at the Parks and Recreations Department as a whole, you have to ask yourself what services are they providing,” said Etherly, “a gym and a golf course.” According to Etherly, the city doesn't have the same revenue or the means to do what used to be offered at the Helena Community Center nor the programs that were being held at the park. “So why do we need some of the positions that we have?” asked Etherly. Etherly explained that currently the department has a director with a salary set at $43,500, a community center director receiving $21,220 and a recreational coordinator getting $26,654. “We're probably over paying for services that parks and recreation provide,” commented Etherly. Etherly went on to say that the Parks and Recreation Department was once operated under the direction of Street Department because there were summer programs, where they would cut and maintain the grass. “At this point, that's the only thing the Parks and Recreation Department should be doing,” commented Etherly. Etherly added that “in all honesty” the city should be paying on a different level for the Parks and Recreation Department to keep the Community Center clean and maintain the grounds at the park. Etherly stated that in his personal opinion he felt that the city couldn't afford to pay some of these individuals for the same services that the Boys & Girls Club are providing. Council Member Wanda Crockett asked about the status of the interim parks and recreation director and whether or not the city is currently paying him. The city treasurer and city clerk confirmed that he is being paid $21,220. Etherly proposed taking the other functions turning them over to a different department and having them maintain the grounds and then hire others when needed at a lower rate. According to Etherly, there were no appropriations made to accommodate to the employment positions that are currently filled. Chief of Staff informed the council that in the Parks dept in the 2013 budget there is listed one person counted as a full-time laborer. Councilman John Huff stated that in the near future some serious manpower cuts cut are going to have to be made. “If we cut it lets cut it, we have some hard decisions to make in the future and we have to be willing to make them despite personal agendas,” concluded Huff.