by Jack Mayne
Again Des Moines residents came before the City Council to plead that the city Parks Department not be cut from the new biennial budget now under consideration.
Mayor Dave Kaplan said there is no proposal to cut parks, and the issue only sprang up because City Manager Tony Piasecki had to list all the potential cuts to balance the precarious budget and this was just one of various ways to balance the budget – to show what could happen “if they went away.”
“There is no intent of eliminating the Parks programs,” Kaplan said.
At the opening of the Council meeting Thursday (Oct. 8), resident and volunteer Schell Ross told the Council it should not consider cutting the Parks Department from the budget. She said contracting with the King County Sheriff’s office and eliminating the local police force could mean a savings that would more than cover the cost of Parks.
“If a community has no parks, they have no community,” she said. “Our senior citizens deserve a good parks program. Our kids deserve a good parks program.”
Ross said the city will have to hire “15 more police officers” to cover the problems that will result from no city park program.
“There are a lot of kids that that park program keeps out of trouble,” Ross said.
Rainier High student Judah Meyering said kids love parks and Camp KHAOS, and cutting parks would take away the work experience that many youth get from working with Parks as well as using the programs and facilities.
“I implore you not to take (Parks) away, it’s very important for everybody,” Meyering said.
Several Councilmembers thanked Ross and Meyering for their comments on the potential of cutting the parks budget.
Turning to the proposed Woodmont Recovery facility, Kaplan said there have been conversations at various levels on moving it from the current site.
“We’re hopeful we are going to hear something soon,” he said.
The Council was told by City Attorney Pat Bosmans that city staff is researching a potential land use attorney to advise them on reopening the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) review regarding Woodmont with several law firms being considered. She said several of the law firms want to know more specifically what the Council wants to learn from the legal review.
Short-term cash crisis
The Council approved a request of Finance Director Dunyele Mason, who told the Council the city did not have enough cash in its general fund to pay its September bills and asked for approval of a short-term loan from the money set aside for equipment replacement to cover cash shortages.
“It is just a liquidity measure, the Council is taking steps in the budget process … so we don’t run into this situation next year,” Mason said, but the borrowing will be used if needed this year. The budget the Council is considering is a new one that should obviate that need in the new biennium, beginning Jan. 1, 2016.
Mason said the no-interest borrowing will be repaid as soon as additional money comes in, even the very next day and the Council gets daily information on the loans and their repayment.