Feature Article - March 2009
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Save Some Green

Smart Cost-Cutting Strategies

By Dawn Klingensmith


he dismal economy has everybody worried, and those who aren't paralyzed with fear or parked on a barstool making a mockery of "happy" hour might opt for a healthier way to deal with financial uncertainty, such as stepping up their workouts to relieve tension. And it makes sense in these times to check out what types of fitness classes the community center has to offer, because the programs there are generally well-run and the prices are right.

Best-case scenario: Our budget-minded fitness buff—let's call him Joe the Plumber just for kicks—strides into the locker room, changes into his exercise gear, powers through 30 minutes of cardio, showers and goes home to his wife and kids, feeling better about himself, more hopeful about his prospects and eager to return the next day for another stress-blasting workout.

But maybe Joe the Plumber has a different experience. Maybe the belly dancing class he loves is no longer offered. Maybe the lap pool is a tad too cold. Maybe the toilet tissue in the bathroom feels a little rougher. Though Joe might not make the connection, these are signs that his community center—and by extension, the parks and recreation sector as a whole—is feeling the effects of the economy, as well. The high cost of energy, for example, means something else in the budget has to give, or it's literally lights out for the facility.

In times like these, cutting operating expenses should be every facility manager's objective. Although in some cases, outright amputations are called for—in the form of discontinued programming, shorter operating hours, a downsized staff and the like—it's amazing how much money can be saved by doing something as simple as switching out light bulbs.

Even in times of economic stability, it always pays to examine operating expenses to eliminate waste and reallocate resources in ways that will enhance Joe the Plumber's enjoyment of the park where he walks his poodle and the fitness center where he bench-presses his own body weight.