Wednesday, August 2, 2006

Rec District to consider $2.35 million budget

Spending up slightly from last year

Express Staff Writer

The Blaine County Recreation District board of directors will consider a $2.35 million spending plan for the coming 2006-2007 fiscal year.

The three-member board will review the proposed budget during a public hearing 8:30 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 3, at the Community Campus in Hailey. The budget is slightly higher than the $2.18 million budget approved for the 2005-2006 year.

In the upcoming fiscal year, the district anticipates $900,200 from Blaine County property taxes—a 38.2 percent increase over the previous year's tax revenue. The remaining revenue sources will come privately through donations and fund-raising efforts, coupled with fees charged by the district for facilities and programs.

The largest proposed expenditures are for maintenance of the North Valley Trails and Wood River Trails. Youth and adult programs account for the district's second largest expenditure.

The budget discussion will finalize the district's plans to evaluate south valley recreation needs over the next year. Projects for 2006-2007 include:

• Evaluate uses of the Blaine County Aquatic Center, located next to the Community Campus in Hailey. The district wants to identify the needs of the community in relation to the pool. Options include covering the pool for year-round use.

• Obtain a summertime special-use permit for the Harriman Trail from the U.S. Forest Service. In exchange for the permit, the district would maintain the trail. Such a permit would allow the district to hold special events on the trail such as running or bike-race events. Executive Director Wally Morgus said the maintenance expenses would be minimal and come from fund-raising efforts rather than tax dollars.

• Acquire a new piston-bully grooming machine. A new grooming device would increase grooming efforts on the North Valley Trails, bringing the district's grooming fleet to a total of six machines.

• Complete a south valley recreation study. The district would like to engage a consultant to do a comprehensive study of recreation opportunities in the south valley. The study would identify properties suitable for recreation purposes like Nordic skiing and snowshoeing. The district has applied for a $30,000 grant to fund the study.

• Continue talks about a recreation project at Quigley Canyon Ranch, located just east of Hailey. A new owner, CG-Elkhorn, a Connecticut- and Chicago-based investment group, recently purchased the 1,500-acre Quigley Canyon Ranch property. The Rec District plans to continue discussions about building a golf course and other recreation amenities in the area with the new owner.

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