Parks and rec funding at risk in budget
by Anthony Gonzalez
The Elkin Board of Commissioners are reacting to a portion of Governor Pat McCrory’s proposed budget that would impact the state’s Parks and Recreation Trust Fund (PARTF).
Joining approximately 50 additional municipalities who submitted a resolution on the matter, Elkin officials say the integrity and funding of PARTF grants must be maintained.
“If you’re doing a big rec project partially funded with a PARTF grant, you’re going to be quite scared by the proposed budget,” said Elkin Mayor Lestine Hutchens. “It’s impossible for Elkin to consider future developments and needs like enlarging the capacity of the recreation center, or repairing the floor in the gym so that children can play safely without PARTF funds.”
“The revenue generated by the dedicated funds of the PARTF were put into the general fund of the state. Then in the Governor’s budget proposal, an allocation was made back to PARTF. It appears approximately $27.5 million should have come to the fund as established by the statute. However, the proposed budget only allocates $15.5 million,” said Michelle Wells, executive director for the NC Recreation & Park Association.
Wells said 722 PARTF grants have been provided to 370 local governments in 99 counties. 84 percent has been for capital improvement and 16 percent for land acquisition. Jobs have been created through the fund particularly in construction projects.
”We understand budget cuts and we have had diversions in the past from the fund,” continued Wells. “But what concerns us is taking away the dedicated funding source from the fund completely.”
Responding to the matter, the Elkin Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a resolution objecting to any change to the formula of what is dedicated to PARTF. They say the 75 cent collection of a deed tax stamp allows for structured and objective planning and efficient management of the system at the state and local level for today and future generations.
The town’s clerk was instructed to send a copy of the resolution to each member of the General Assembly.
PARTF was established in 1994 to fund improvements in the state’s park system, to find grants for local governments and to increase the public’s access to the state’s beaches and coastal waterways.
“We don’t judge until we see what we have to work with,” said Mayor Hutchens. “But we can’t take any chances. Elkin residents expect exceptional service and facilities. … We need the matching funds in order for us to properly plan and grow.”
An aide to Governor McCory said that the Governor’s first-year budget proposal is belt tightening and accepting cuts are not easy for anyone.
Reach Anthony Gonzalez at 336-835-1513 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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