The Santa Barbara County Parks Dept. is temporarily cutting services offered at local recreational areas to compensate for the organization’s declining revenue.
The department announced its decision to downsize last week following the release of a budget report detailing significant drops in the organization’s 2011 profits to date. The changes include closing Vista Point near Cachuma Lake, turning off Waller Park fountain pumps on weekdays, pursuing late fees more aggressively and closing the Guadalupe Dunes on Mondays and Tuesdays.
Interim Parks Director Brian Roney said the reductions will bridge the gap between the department’s expenditures and revenues while the organization regains its financial footing.
“When revenue declines, we must cut back on expenses, so we looked at our entire operation and determined the changes that would provide cost savings and have minimal impacts on the public,” Roney said in a press release. “The goal is to restore access and services as soon as fiscally responsible.”
Santa Barbara Parks and Recreation Director Nancy Rapp said the city department faced a similar situation a few years ago.
“Even though the city and the county of Santa Barbara are two completely separate entities, it seems that we’ve been experiencing some of the same problems,” Rapp said. “Fortunately, we will be maintaining a status quo budget this year and we have managed to cut spending, but obviously the county is a much bigger program than we are and have bigger problems to deal with.”
Rapp said the cuts are in line with the actions of most departments in Santa Barbara over the last few years as many city departments have been forced to cut their budgets by up to 20 percent.
According to Rapp, the county would benefit from addressing the budget pitfalls immediately.
“I know for us, the most important thing was not to waste any time and make the necessary budget cuts as soon as possible,” Rapp said. “It wasn’t easy, but a few years later here we are with our heads above water.”
The Parks and Recreation Dept. of Santa Barbara County is responsible for any large body of water located between Cachuma Lake and Jalama Beach, trails from Carpinteria to Santa Maria and additional territories throughout the county.
Kathleen Sullivan, marketing coordinator for the Santa Barbara Parks and Recreation Dept., said only time will tell how the county’s decision will impact its fiscal future.
“Right now things are a little uncertain in terms of pure budget numbers,” Sullivan said. “I think that pretty soon the county will have a much more clear idea of what needs to be done to fix the budget.”