The Fairfax County Park Authority has had to tighten the belt on funds since fiscal year 2009, and 2014 could likely be no different.
The county’s budgetary outlook for the next few years is grim, prompting County Executive Ed Long's request for agencies to identify potential cuts that would reduce their fiscal year 2014 General Fund needs by 5 percent.
Per the request of park officials, the Board unanimously approved Tuesday an audit of the Authority's general fund services in order to find cuts that will not dramatically affect the operation and maintenance of the county's 420 public parks.
But according to a letter from the Park Authority, that won't be easy. As it stands, 82 percent of the Authority's General Fund appropriation covers personnel, an area in which they are already struggling, officials say.
"Further General Fund reductions will severely impact our personnel levels and equate to facility closings," said William Bouie, Chairman of the Park Authority Board, in his letter to supervisors.
Supervisor Pat Herrity (R-Springfield) supported the motion for an audit review, but didn't want it to become a regular occurrence.
"This causes me a little bit of concern because I don't know if we want to set precedent of every agency that's coming under fiscal pressure going to the audit committee for reductions," he said.
He also noted the Authority’s revenue fund — comprised of fee dollars as opposed to tax dollars — had increased since 2008, and said a thorough review of those fund allocations should be conducted as well.
In his letter, Bouie said that in recent years, the Park Authority has shifted from a dependency on tax dollars to a dependency on fees, with 42 percent in tax support and 58 percent in fee support.
Supervisor Cathy Hudgins stressed the importance of those figures.
"We have reduced general fund support, and they have balanced that challenge of their mission by increasing fees," she said. "When we give this review back, I hope that we'll look at the mission as well as the financials."