When it comes to balancing the budget, the Rockford Park District has to level the playing the field. It faces a one million dollar deficit for 2018.
"We're going to have to start looking at reducing the size of the district or cutting back on services," says RPD Executive Director Jay Sandine.
The district says over the past decade, it's noticed a shift.
"Families have moved out, household income is a lot lower than it used to be. Two areas that used to produce a lot of revenue for the district are golf courses and Magic Waters. Because of those changes in our demographic and the industry we don't bring in as much revenue."
On top of that, the district says its property tax levy hasn't changed over the past three years. All of this together adding up to a one million dollar deficit. So far, the board has proposed measures to cut that deficit nearly in half. Things like staffing cuts, eliminating one week from Music in the Park, and getting rid of indoor swimming lessons. Sandine says at this point he believes the board won't recommend any changes to affect the property tax rate.
"My concern is when programs start being reduced at the park district then we go back to kids having idle time on their hands and they maybe kids that aren't linked with a coach or a great mentor and that's when kids get influenced and start going down the wrong path and then that impacts everyone in the community."
As far as what else is on the chopping block, that remains to be seen. But Sandine is hoping the community will be vocal and help the board decide what can go, and what needs to stay.
"Have them tell us what are the priorities right now in the community, what ideas do you have. What's a core service, what's an area that's not a core service anymore. Then we'll adjust."
The Park District's board will revisit the budget during next week's meeting. In December, there will be a period of time when people will have a chance to both see the budget, and provide their feedback before it's voted on in 2018.