Feature Article - February 2011
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Budget Defense Tactics

Use Business Sense & Strategic Partnerships to Survive

By Deborah L. Vence

But, are parks and recreation departments beginning to see that things have to change in this way, and that a new direction and strategy needs to take place?

"I think some are starting to," O'Rourke said. "I think that what the elected people and city administrators and county administrator needs to do is to take this step. It's a very foreign concept to city administrators—to actually be in business. You have elected people that will say, 'I don't want go up on the baseball fee.' But, if you think about it, everybody else in the community is subsidizing that program. Sit them down and say, 'This is how much it costs to do it."

And, it's simple. If you pay, you play.

"It's just one thing that's very easy to understand—whoever uses the services pays for the service. We couldn't have this park system without being set up this way," O'Rourke said.

But, all things take time.

"You can't become this commission overnight. It took us 32 years to get here," he said. "You have to make calculated business decisions. The foundation of what we do speaks to the values that exist. It's not about money. It's about the people—what their wants and desires are. But, that doesn't mean you can't do that in a business environment."

Wilson added that there should be a greater demand and effort to be as entrepreneurial as possible.

"We need to find that balance between fee and free. There are opportunities to help the community, areas we can operate more like a business," he added. "If we can be more entrepreneurial from those reasonable efforts, we will be able to keep our demand on the tax base to a minimum."