Mid-Year Review of Naperville Park District Budget Shows It’s Not Pandemic Proof

Naperville Park District
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The Naperville Park District is seeing a bit of a pandemic impact to both the revenues and expenses that make up its 2021 budget. During its meeting last week, the park board took a close look at a mid-year report on the annual budget.

Financial Overview

Sue Stanish, the district’s director of finance, said it is best to refer to the current year’s budget and 2019 for comparative purposes.

“Our budget—because when we put it together last year at this time we were not even open, things were just starting to go—isn’t as relevant as comparing to a normal year,” Stanish said. “We think we are going to be in a better position based on where we are now and what we’re projecting overall, but when you’re really looking at stats and how we’re doing, we’re going to be going back to 2019.”

The district’s programming, recreation, sales and rental fees this year are down, which drove revenue to about $1.6 million below where it stood in 2019. “While you’re going to hear about increased participation in some of our areas, we are still not at the levels both in participation and revenues where we were in 2019,” Stanish said.

On the expense side, the district stands about $2.3 million down compared to 2019. The budget items cited for reducing the district’s expenses are contractual services, part-time wages and golf debt.

Facilities and Recreation

Brad Wilson, the district’s director of recreation and facilities, said they are seeing growth in the number of people putting their facilities and recreational programs to use. “In some areas we’re doing better than expected, in other areas we’re actually below,” Wilson said.

Wilson said the park district is noting that Centennial Beach attendance is down by just 5%, or 4,900 visitors, from its three-year average. “We believe some of that is due to fewer groups coming in to the beach,” Wilson said.

At the Fort Hill Activity Center, membership is down by 1,300 people from where it stood in March of 2020 when the pandemic first took hold.

“We are now at 69% of what our memberships were,” Wilson said. “It is slowly, steadily climbing back.”

Kevin Carlson, the district’s director of golf, acknowledged that revenue generated from certain recreational activities were hurt more than golf by the COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions, but said he was unsure if the participation would sustain itself come 2021.

“With things opening up this year a little bit more, we really didn’t know if things were going to pull back with golf or with our participation,” Carlson said.

The district’s golf courses are up about 30% with rounds through the end of July compared to 2019. “Things have continued to be very strong with good weather and strong participation across the board for golf,” Carlson said. What’s more is the number of new golfers continues to grow.

Capital Budget

Eric Shutes, the district’s director of planning, said the implementation of capital projects that were approved as part of the 2021 budget is going according to plan. The list consists of almost 200 initiatives and allowance items, officials said. The projects carry an $8.8 million price tag.

Shutes said they’re doing well with prioritizing when initiatives are implemented and getting better pricing when possible. He said the park district has identified about $850,000 in projects deferred and savings.

Naperville News 17’s Megann Horstead reports.

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