Rec and Park unveils moneymaking schemes

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Scrambling to make up a 36.5 percent cut in its budget, The City’s Recreation and Park Department is looking to several novel ideas for raising revenue, along with some staff cuts.

Some of the 300 revenue proposals include selling naming rights to Candlestick Park and other facilities, promoting clubhouse rentals for weddings and business meetings, charging for some parking, and offering bingo games.

Revenue from new stadium naming rights wasn’t estimated. About $900,000 could come from increased parking revenue, $350,000 from new day camps and after-school programs, and $1 million from new amenities in parks.

The Recreation and Park Commission voted unanimously to approve the plan at its meeting Thursday, and to send the plan to the Mayor’s Office Friday. It cuts 45 positions out of 850 and includes department restructuring. The job cuts, which include some vacant positions and those vacated through attrition, will save $2 million. Rec and Park must trim a total of $12.4 million from its $34 million general fund budget.  

The department assumes it can make $9 million more with new revenue initiatives.

“These are all budget estimates we feel pretty good about, and they’re all conservative,” General Manager Phil Ginsburg said.

Rec and Park has not solidified any deals that guarantee the $9 million in new revenue. It just started requests for proposals.

For instance, Rec and Park proposes charging a nonresident fee at the Botanical Garden in Golden Gate Park. It’s an idea that didn’t fly last year, but could save three gardener positions.

“Rec and Park pays for 10 gardeners and spends $1.2 million at that garden,” Ginsburg said. “If the fee doesn’t work, I’m going to have to move some gardeners because it’s just not fair.”

The gardening positions are the same ones relying on a new apprenticeship program that would teach incoming gardeners in a two-year program, but pay them less during that period.

At a presentation, Ginsburg gave to hundreds of employees Wednesday to address looming layoffs, he said Rec and Park would consider opening its clubhouses during off hours to libraries and also charge rent for open spaces.

It’s a conversation that hasn’t started with the public library system, though a meeting was scheduled for Friday.

“I’m a little puzzled,” Public Library spokeswoman Marcia Schneider said. “We’ll probably be talking about rent on open spaces, but I am not sure why we would rent their clubhouses.”

Ginsburg did not promise employees that the plan is a miracle, but did say he’s trying to be candid about the department’s decisions and hopes to peel Rec and Park away from relying on The City’s funds.

“It sometimes means telling you things you don’t want to hear,” Ginsburg said. “You all have been in this position every year for the last five years. I also stand with you to say enough is enough.”

He also said he would take a 10 percent pay cut from his $205,788 salary, though he didn’t reveal to employees how much he made.

 

Raising revenue

Some of the more than 300 ideas to generate revenue for the Recreation and Park Department:

•Pilates and fitness boot camps
•Renting clubhouses for weddings and private events
•Nonresident fees at Botanical Garden and Coit Tower
•Parents night out babysitting centers
•Night Glow golf course
•Food vendors
•Public markets
•Bingo
•Sleepovers in some parks
•Charge for some parking
•Renting Segways and bicycles

Source: Rec and Park

kkelkar@sfexaminer.com

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