Feature Article - June 2013
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Parks & Recreation

A Look at Trends in Parks & Recreation

Revenues & Expenditures

Parks respondents' reporting about their revenues from 2009 through 2014 reveals the impact of the recession, as well as the beginning of a recovery. From 2009 to 2010, more than a quarter (25.8 percent) of parks respondents saw their revenues decrease. This was followed by a further drop in 2011, when 21.8 percent reported a decrease. Less than a fifth (17.4 percent) of parks respondents this year reported that they had seen a decrease in revenues from 2011 to 2012, while 43.8 percent reported revenue increases for that time period. (See Figure 41.)

While the percentage expecting increasing revenues is lower for 2013 and 2014 compared with 2012, there is also a falling number of respondents reporting a decrease in revenues. In addition, past surveys have revealed that parks respondents tend to be more cautious with their projections than respondents from other facility types.

Respondents from parks saw their operating expenses drop by 2.3 percent from fiscal 2011 to fiscal 2012, from $1,700,000 on average, to $1,661,000. This is slightly more modest than the 6.2 percent decrease in operating expenses reported by all respondents to the survey in that time period. And, in fiscal 2012, parks respondents' average operating expense of $1,661,000 was 14.1 percent higher than the average of $1,456,000 for all survey respondents. Looking forward, parks respondents project that their operating expenses will increase by 2.8 percent between fiscal 2012 and fiscal 2014, to $1,707,000. This rate of growth is slightly slower than the survey population at large. As a result, parks respondents' budgets are expected to be 12.7 percent higher than the across-the-board average by fiscal 2014.

Parks respondents were more likely than many other respondents to report that they had taken action to reduce their expenditures. Some 89 percent of parks respondents indicated they had done so, compared with 86.3 percent of all respondents. The most common actions taken among parks respondents include improving energy efficiency (56.4 percent had done so), increasing fees (49.9 percent) and reducing staff (49.8 percent). More than a third also indicated they had put construction or renovation plans on hold (39.7 percent), or cut programs and services (33.7 percent).