Feature Article - June 2011
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Parks & Recreation

A Look at Trends in Parks & Recreation

By Emily Tipping

Revenues & Expenditures

A majority of respondents from parks (74.2 percent) reported that their revenues had either increased or remained the same from 2009 to 2010. Approximately one-quarter (25.8 percent) saw their revenues fall in this same time period. (See Figure 41.)

There is virtually no change in the number who are anticipating revenues to rise over the next couple of years, with 39.9 percent expecting to see an increase in 2011, and 39.9 percent again expecting to see an increase in 2012. The number of respondents who are anticipating a decrease in revenues over the next couple of years falls to 17.6 percent in 2011 and 10.6 percent in 2012.

At the same time, more than half of these respondents (56.3 percent) reported that the number of people using their facilities increased from 2009 to 2010. Similar numbers expect to see increasing usage in 2011 (56 percent) and 2012 (54.3 percent). Far fewer respondents reported that the number of people visiting their facilities is falling, either in 2010 (12.6 percent), 2011 (6.3 percent) or 2012 (3.6 percent). (See Figure 42.)

Thus, respondents were more likely to see increasing usage than increasing revenues, a challenging combination that can put a strain on already-stretched operating budgets. And, in fact, parks respondents this year reported a substantial drop—more than 27.9 percent—in their operating expenditures from more than $2.2 million reported by last year's respondents for fiscal 2009 to $1.6 million in fiscal 2010.

Operating expenditures are expected to rise over the next couple of years, to $1,671,000 in fiscal 2012, an increase of 3.5 percent. Significantly, this projected increase for 2012 will bring budgets back—and slightly higher than—the level reported for fiscal 2007 ($1,668,800) by the respondents to our 2008 Industry Report Survey.