By CHRIS MORRIS
NEW ALBANY —
Last Thursday the city unveiled a plan to operate its own parks department. Wednesday night, it was the county’s turn.
Don Lopp, director of Floyd County operations and county planner, presented a plan to the Floyd County Commissioners. The plan details everything from how many employees it will take to operate a Floyd County Parks Department, to a budget and facilities which will fall under the county’s jurisdiction.
Lopp will present the same plan to parks employees today and the New Albany-Floyd County Parks Board tonight at 6. That meeting will take place at the Southern Indiana Sports Center, 620 Park East Blvd. in New Albany.
“The parks board asked the county to put together a transitional plan for the parks,” Lopp told the commissioners.
The city council approved on final reading Monday night an ordinance to end the current joint agreement with Floyd County for recreational services. New Albany Mayor Jeff Gahan initiated the split, saying the city has paid about $4 million more toward the service than the county over the past eight years. The joint venture to join the two parks departments was formed in 1994.
However, Commissioner Chuck Freiberger said Tuesday that statement is not entirely correct. He said no where in the interlocal agreement does it state the county has to approve a separate cumulative capital tax which city residents currently pay.
“We were asked to do what the city did [pass a cumulative capital tax] but they did that outside of the interlocal agreement. The city council chose themselves to put that tax on city residents,” Freiberger said. “We were asked to match that, but if we would have done that, city residents would have paid an additional tax. That would not have been fair to them. So when you hear that $4 million number, it’s a little misleading.”
Lopp said Tuesday under the county parks plan he has proposed, there would be a yearly operation’s budget of $500,000, four full-time employees and two part-time, four trucks, one tractor and mower each, and assorted machinery.
Also under the plan, the county would maintain and control the following properties: Sam Peden Community Park, Galena-Lamb Park, Garry Cavan-Edwardsville Park, Greenville Park, Letty Walter Park, Woodlands Park, Herman Collier Park and the Southern Indiana Sports Complex.
The city also wants to control the sports center and Woodlands Park, Lopp said. He hopes the two can come to some sort of agreement when it comes to the sports center, which is the current headquarters of the parks department. The split will take effect Jan. 1.
“The budget we are proposing does not raise taxes and there is no double taxation,” Lopp said.
Lopp and Floyd County Commissioners’ President Steve Bush met with Gahan on Wednesday to discuss the split of the New Albany-Floyd County Parks Department.
“The mayor wants a smooth transition,” Bush said. “We indicated to the mayor we are moving forward with a plan. We will know more after the first of the year but we need to have a plan in place. We have to be ready the first of the year with our own programs, and make sure we don’t have any of our programs disrupted. We want to make sure we are prepared.”
Lopp said he will take his plan to the Floyd County Council next week so they can formally approve forming and funding a county parks department.