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October 10, 2012

Gahan: New Albany-Floyd parks should be split

Issues over funding, public pool and Little League park among reasons he wants city-only setup

NEW ALBANY — Citing failed financial commitments and the need to begin planning for a new public pool and Little League baseball complex, Mayor Jeff Gahan confirmed Tuesday he will seek to end the current format and create a separate New Albany parks and recreation department.

The city and Floyd County have been at odds over funding the joint parks and recreation system for about a year. The shared agreement called for the city and county to foot the New Albany-Floyd County Parks Department’s operational budget equally based on population, which has been about the same in New Albany as outside the city limits since the deal was signed in 1994.

But when including all funding, New Albany has provided about $4 million more for the department than the county since 2004, according to city records.

The county has also declined to implement a cumulative capital fund — a source which New Albany used to generate $685,625 from 2007 to 2011 for building and other expenses related to parks and recreation.

Through additional appropriations, the county did match the city’s operational commitment to the department this year, as each side footed about $500,000 for the $1 million annual budget.

But the 2013 budget being considered by the Floyd County Council only calls for a $250,000 allotment for the parks next year.

Gahan said the city is planning an outdoor aquatic center and a new Little League facility, and that New Albany doesn’t have “the time or the luxury” to wait on the county to honor its financial obligations to the parks department.

“Most people agree that our city has fallen behind in terms of outdoor recreational facilities for our youth,” he said.  “I’m certain the reason the city has found itself in this position is because of the current parks structure.”

Gahan said his aim is to begin a city parks department next year, and a measure could be before the New Albany City Council as early as its next meeting Oct. 18 calling for an end to the current agreement.

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