, Corbin, KY

November 8, 2013

Park finances released in B’ville

Rough figures show losses in the thousands, Corbin, KY

CORBIN — By John L. Ross, Staff Writer

While overall financial numbers for the city of Barbourville’s four public parks are yet to be fully finalized, rough totals for the concession monies show those concessions lost several thousand dollars this year.

During the regular monthly meeting of the Barbourville City Council Thursday, city department heads offered activity reports for their departments — and the final report given came from Mayor David Thompson, who handed council members raw season-end totals for concessions at three of the city’s four public parks.

Thompson Park has not yet completely closed down for the season, according to Thompson, and those numbers were not included in Thursday’s handed-out report. The other three parks are the Waterpark, the ball field and Walnut Park.

City residents learned in February that council members unanimously agreed to change the way certain aspects of the city’s parks were managed.

Thompson explained then that the Water Park “has had different people running it” over the years. He said it was first managed by the city, and then management changed several different times. The mayor said he even ran it.

Then five years ago, Thompson’s wife, Wendy Thompson, was put in place by recommendation of the Parks and Recreation board to oversee the facility. Her compensation for that was a commission from the concession monies. However, the mayor told council members then that his wife would begin managing her own daycare center after April 1 and could no longer oversee the park.

The other city park, Thompson said, is largely used as a baseball field.

“When it was built, (concessions) were run by the Little League (teams),” he said.

But council members expressed various concerns about the past operation of the parks, and voted to make changes.

Council member Ronnie Moore made the motion that operation of the concession stands at the city park and the water park not be bid out to subcontractors. He continued with his motion, saying that instead, the city should hire an employee to operate the concessions — then all profits at the concession stands will be profit for the city.

Council member Gary Williams asked if Moore meant one or two different people for each concession area.

Moore said that part did not matter, saying council could get “one to run them all, or 10 to run them all.”

Then council member Gerald Hyde seconded that motion. Council members were unanimous in their decision.

Then Moore immediately made another motion — to hire a water park manager as a city employee, and one of that person’s responsibilities would be to oversee the management of the concession stands.

Williams questioned whether the duties of the concession manager and the water park manager would overlap, but Moore clarified the water park manager would be “over” the concession stand employee(s). Williams then seconded that motion. Again, council members were unanimous in their decision.

All that happened in February.

During Thursday’s meeting, Thompson explained to council members these numbers were provided to see if “this is the direction to go for the following year.”

Concession revenues for the year for the three parks — the Waterpark, Walnut Park and the ball park — totaled $37,499.65.

Concession expenses for the parks totaled $28,269.48 — which on concessions alone leaves a $9,230.17 profit.

However, part of the council’s management changes included adding the park manager salary — where in prior years the salary was commission-based.

Payroll for the concession stands, including payroll taxes, totaled $17,162.37 — leaving $7,932.20 to be paid through other venues.

Add in the park manager’s $12,000 salary — and that leaves the total loss based on concessions at just shy of $20,000.

The new park manager, Sherry Williamson, was hired and in place two days prior to the opening of the Water Park — and the mayor said there were no complaints as to how the parks were managed.

Thompson added that the health department always had good reports on the parks as well.

He also said that where Walnut Park had closed earlier than others, those concessions not sold were taken to the ballpark.

Council member Sherman Lawson questioned whether changes had been made this year concerning ordering concessions and supplies — thinking perhaps that changes possibly contributed to the concessions’ losses.

Thompson said Pepsi, who supplies the drink concessions, urged the city to change to bottled beverages versus the fountain drinks — and they did two years ago, he said.

Otherwise, everything else was relatively the same.

Moore began to question other, unrelated expenses, such as a replacement pump — and the mayor reiterated that the report provided Thursday strictly concerned the parks’ concessions.

“Why (did we) receive this report and nothing else,” Moore asked.

Thompson said he thought council members would be interested to see the results of their February decision.

“I’d like to check these figures,” Moore said, adding he “feels (like) they could do it the same way” next year.

Council member Darren West asked who ordered the concessions. Williamson explained that as she was hired so close to the opening day, all the concessions were stocked prior to her start date. However, as the year progressed, she ordered replacement concessions from a vendor list.

It was further discussed that perhaps her salary would derive from some concession monies combined with Waterpark monies.

Thompson reminded council members that at least for the last six years, there was no manager salary to figure into the expenses. “Whoever ran the concessions, ran the park,” he said. “This year we had a salary.”

Thompson said that a decision was needed as to how the council planned to manage the parks next year, so the city’s Parks and Recreation Board could review and make recommendations.

“I don’t think the rec board needs to make that decision,” Moore said.

West seemed to agree, saying that when council made the decision it was without the recreation board’s recommendations.

However, Council member Wilma Barnes came to the recreation board’s defense. “We appreciate them and they do a good job,” she said.

Both Moore and West quickly agreed with Barnes, saying the board members do perform well.

No decisions were required concerning this report, and it was unclear whether council members will keep the management “as is” or make changes for next year.