The Jefferson County Board members met last Tuesday to discuss the budget proposal for 2014. There was great debate over quality of life issues and amendments to the 2014 proposed budget.
The meeting started off with a citizen coming forward to express his feelings towards multiple amendments that would create budget cuts in the Parks Department. Andy Didion said that Jefferson County is known for their parks and outdoor recreation. The proposed amendments to the budget would cut a large portion of the Parks Department budget if passed.
“Leave those dollars in the budget and enhance our county, encourage people to spend money here,” was Didion’s final comment. This very much set the tone for the debates over the proposed amendments.
There was great debate over whether or not it was necessary to eliminate money out of the Parks Department for multiple issues. George Jaeckel, Representative for District 23, proposed to eliminate $55,000 from the Parks Department budget for a Groomer and UTV for the snow mobile trails.
Jaeckel says that these are things that can only be used for three months of the year and the money would better be served buying new squad cars for the Sherriff’s Department.
John Molinaro, County Board Chairman, stated that the Sherriff’s Department has added another year to the life expectancy of the squad cars by extending the miles from 150,000 to 250,000. The Sherriff’s Department is not currently in need of new squad cars so the money will stay in the Parks Department.
Gregory Torres, Representative for District 12, had three proposed amendments involving cuts in the Parks Department.
- Eliminate $10,000 from the Parks Department budget for the capital item, ‘Install 9-hole disc golf course at Carlin Weld Park.’
- Eliminate $45,000 from the Parks Department budget for the capital item, ‘Recreational Equipment.’
- Eliminate $13,000 from the Parks Department budget for the capital item, ‘Install Well at Garman Nature Preserve.’
Torres didn’t think that disc golf was popular enough to use $10,000 of the budget to create a course. Others disagreed and said that the sport is gaining popularity fast and this could help attract people to Jefferson County.
The installation of a well at Garman Nature Preserve is very important as there isn’t a water source hearby. This would attract more people to the Garman Nature Preserve.
All of these proposed amendments were denied after a lengthy debate. There were a lot of repeated comments about the quality of life issues. Most members of the County Board agreed that they need to keep the money in the Parks Department to attract people to the county.
John Molinaro said, “we’ve heard this from all the big employers in Jefferson County who tell us that those type of quality of life issues are a key element in recruiting high level employees to their businesses.”
In order for Jefferson County to grow economically, it requires the money to maintain its beauty and blossom into something more. The money remains in the Parks Department budget and will help bring great things for the communities involved.