Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA) Director John Dargle will hold a Listening Forum in the Springfield District at Hidden Pond Nature Center on Thursday, Sept. 20, at 7 p.m.
The Springfield forum is one of several being held across the county, inviting residents to discuss with the director their ideas and concerns about Fairfax County Parks.
County Executive Ed Long has asked all county agencies to present him recommendations for a possible five percent budget cut from the general fund for fiscal year 2014. Hidden Pond Nature Center is included on one of the Park Authority's lists under consideration.
Park Authority staff presented two preliminary lists to the Park Authority Board, according to Judy Pederson, public information officer for the Park Authority. The first list focused on FY2014, while the second list included options the board could choose for FY2014, or use as a starting point for FY2015, said Pederson.
While Pederson confirmed Hidden Pond Nature Center is on the second list, she would not disclose what else is on the lists. "This is a pen and pencil exercise at this point," said Pederson. "This is a political decision beyond Park Authority staff," she said. "We answer to a board, then there will be public meetings and the Board of Supervisors will make the final decisions."
The Park Authority's general fund allocation for FY2013 is approximately $22 million, according to Pederson. "Five percent of that would be about $1.1 million," she said.
"Since FY2008 general funding for the Park Authority has been cut by $8 million," said Pederson. "The reality is we don't have anything else left [to cut]; we've been cut to the bone," she said. "There was a lot of deliberation in forming these lists, but not a lot of choice," she said.
Pederson said about 82 percent of the Park Authority's funding is used for salaries. She said staff is considering ways to cut costs, including possibilities for increasing revenue and alternative uses of staff.
When asked what concerned citizens could do to support their parks, Pederson offered these suggestions:
- Share your concerns with your elected officials.
- Join a friends group at the park of your choice.
- Support the park bond in November’s general election.
- Donate to the Fairfax County Park Foundation.
- Volunteer at the park of your choice.
County Executive Long has requested all county agencies submit their 5 percent cut recommendations by September 28.