Parks commissioners focus on 2014 budget

Discussions on the Pine Bluff Parks and Recreation Department’s 2014 financial budget continued Monday at a meeting of the agency’s commission.

Commissioners Duke Fakouri, Fabian Fontenot, Krandon Henry and Kami Hunt heard a report on a proposed budget package from Commissioner Chris Blunt. Commissioners Carson Fields, Jonathan Frazier, Jeff Pulliam and Roy Tolson were absent.

Blunt said he and Saracen Landing Manager Trudy Redus have been working on a plan and have been successful in trimming spending appropriations by 2.5 percent, which was requested by Mayor Debe Hollingsworth in light of a continuing slide in tax revenues.

Blunt is slated to meet with Hollingsworth on the budget Thursday afternoon, and other commissioners may also be present.

Fakouri, meanwhile, requested data from a salary survey on the vacant director’s position.

In a recent joint meeting of the panel’s finance and personnel committees, Fakouri said that instead of concerning itself with possibly appointing an interim parks and recreation department director, the commission should proceed with advertising for a new director to replace recently fired Angela Parker.

Parker was fired Sept. 23 for what Kami Hunt, the commission’s chairwoman, described as failure to properly supervise employees and parks since being placed on extended probation in January. The commission’s personnel committee had recommended her termination in December.

Parker was earning $56,300 annually and hadn’t had a raise in several years, according to Office Manager Melissa McHan. Frazier suggested clipping the salary to $50,000 0r $51,000.

A salary survey conducted a few years ago determined that Parker’s wage was then the average among similar-sized parks and recreation departments in the state, McHan said. Tolson said that another survey might be needed to see if the average has increased, and that a highly qualified applicant who might otherwise be interested in the job probably wouldn’t be willing to work for a low salary.

At Monday’s meeting, the commission decided to change its schedule for maintenance, personnel and finance committee meetings to 4, 4:30 and 5 p.m., respectively, on the third Monday of each month. The finance committee’s meeting time will conflict with 5 p.m. sessions of the city council’s ways and means, and ordinances and resolutions committees before a full council session at 5:30.

The council also meets on the first Monday of each month. That session follows a 4 p.m. public safety and 5 p.m. ordinances and resolutions, and ways and means committee meetings.