The Havelock Parks and Recreation Department has passed a milestone, of sorts. For the first time in city history, the department’s budget exceeds $1 million.
The Parks and Recreation Department budget for the 2012-2013 fiscal year was $1.12 million, about $373,000 more than the previous fiscal year budget.
The money goes toward operation and maintenance of the city’s recreation center and facility off Fontana Boulevard as well as all other city parks and playgrounds. It even covers Havelock’s July Fourth Freedom Festival.
An average of 10,000 "participations" happens each month at Havelock recreation events and venues. Activities range from lifting weights, participating in a basketball games or practice, taking a fitness class or just simply walking the recreation facility trail.
Dave Smith, recreation director, said about 60 percent of the users of the city’s recreation facilities actually live in Havelock, and thus pay city taxes that support the department. He said others may come from the Harlowe or Carolina Pines areas, or even from other cities such as Newport. Some of those other users are children who participate in the various youth soccer, lacrosse, baseball or football leagues.
All children pay registration fees to participate in those leagues, and those leagues in turn pay fees to the recreation department. Other revenue comes from rentals of city facilities such as the city park as well as recreation center memberships and day charges.
The revenue helps offset the cost of operating the recreation center and pay for nine employees.
The Havelock Recreation Advisory Board has been looking into the possibility of increasing user fees. Though specifics have not been completed, the board plans to approach Havelock’s Board of Commissioners with a proposal this month.
Smith said the goal would be to increase fees enough to generate revenue to cover about 15 percent of the department’s budget. That would account for $54,252 this fiscal year.
"We’re looking at a pretty ambitious goal here, but it’s still something we’re going to strive for," Smith said.
An increase in fees could filter down to the youth leagues, which may have to charge parents more to have their children participate to make up for the increases in city charges.
Smith said he did not think an increase in fees would keep people away from the recreation center or from participating in those youth leagues.
"It’s all recreation for all people," he said. "That’s what we try to do here as a staff, provide all recreation for all people."
Smith admits that he wished there could be more cultural and arts programs within the department, but he said he’s open to suggestions on how to improve the programs.
"The biggest thing, as always, and I’ve been here almost nine years now, the city is very hungry for recreation, whether it be seniors or youth, arts or sports," Smith said.