Parks and recreation commission decides to seek additional funding

The Pine Bluff Parks and Recreation Commission, meeting in regular session Tuesday afternoon, voted unanimously to authorize a request to the city council for a budget adjustment to compensate for a $100,000 shortfall.

Park and Recreation Department Director Angela Parker said the amount is needed for the department to function through the remainder of the calendar year.

The commission asked Gina Devers of the city’s finance department to have the request placed on the agenda for Monday night’s council meeting, the first of two remaining regular sessions for 2012. The other is slated for Dec. 17.

Parker said parks and recreation was at one time over budget by $144,000, primarily due to excessive spending on some summer programs. Parker said she, Devers and Mayor Carl A. Redus Jr. have met several times on the matter to determine financial cuts to lessen the sum.

She said several Chester Hynes Community Center summer staff members’ jobs were discontinued because of a small number of children in the program. Parker added that other salary adjustments have been made and assorted expenses trimmed to ease the financial lacking.

During the meeting, commission Chairwoman Kami Hunt allowed a pair of adult leaders and two mothers of children in the discontinued Hynes program to express their views on the matter, including some personal criticisms of Parker’s handling of the situation and comments she posted about it on Facebook’s Pine Bluff Briefing site. Parker responded briefly, but Hunt urged her to hold her comments for an executive session, which was never called.

Commissioner Abel White requested the audience members to be brief in their remarks and said he didn’t want to see arguments develop between them and Parker.

In other business, the commission decided to look at allowing a Ladd Boxing Club program to continue without being accessed a $100 monthly rental fee. The commission is considering formulating a written contract with the program.

Pine Bluff native Gary Parish, now a Texas resident, spoke about his ideas concerning a splash pad here. Parish also shared some research he has conducted on splash pad facilities.

The commission’s next meeting was tentatively scheduled for 4 p.m. Dec. 14.