For the week of August 26 thru September 1, 1998  

Rec district tightens belt

Express Staff Writer

The valley’s play-hungry denizens may not meet news of next year’s Blaine County Recreation District budget with enthusiasm.

A 7.07 percent decrease in the 1998-1999 rec district budget from last year is a step toward an overall 15 percent budget cut over several years sought by the board of directors.

"We’ve been using savings over the past few years to cover our budget," rec district executive director Mary Austin Crofts said. "We had the savings to spend...but we can’t continue to use them."

The rec district’s savings were largely spent on planning projects which Crofts said were necessary at the time.

The more than $100,000 drop was approved at a meeting of the rec district board of directors last Wednesday.

Areas such as the Blaine County Aquatic Center, capital construction, Big Wood Back-country Trails, and Ketchum skate park line items will see cuts.

Board members were concerned this fiscal belt tightening ran contrary to what residents want from the organization.

"The public expresses appreciation to me all the time and wants more, and here we’re cutting back," director Bob Rosso said. "Somewhere we have to blend the public’s interest and our abilities."

Crofts said she will continue working on the matter and the board decided not resolve it that afternoon.

All this is not to imply the public should expect less from the rec district than it’s already getting.

After some quick calculations, Crofts figured property taxes for a $200,000 home would get the homeowner $200 a year in rec district programs and services.

"We’re the best deal in town. I challenge anyone to find a better one anywhere," Crofts said.

The executive director went on to described project goals for the next few seasons to include completing a master plan for Galena Lodge, agreements for Quigley Ranch and golf course, plans for a community recreation center in Hailey, a Blaine County impact fee program, and an avalanche plan to relocate all sections of its North Valley Trails System out of avalanche zones.


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