A reduced city budget is causing the City of Meridian to cut hours for part-time workers employed through the Parks and Recreation Department.
“We didn’t cut any programs. We didn’t cut any staff, we just had to reduce some of the hours until we can see where we are within our budget,” said Kelvin McGruder, executive director of the department.
Some of those affected include referees for local sports. City leaders say budget cuts were needed due to unforeseen city expenses like repairing the IHOP sinkhole, revamping the city’s wastewater treatment process to meet EPA regulations, and declining sales tax revenue.
“Half of our general fund budget comes from sales tax. If you order something online, we don’t get that sales tax. That’s made a major impact on our local economy,” said Ward 1 City Councilman George Thomas.
However, in Tuesday’s city council meeting, Mayor Percy Bland told council members that no programs through the parks and recs department will be cut.
“We’re still doing sufficiency programs, still providing services for the elderly, still providing services for the young adults, still providing for the children,” said McGruder.
Because the city budget is so tight, city leaders have been looking for grants that will create new playgrounds as well as maintain the ones that are already here.
“You noticed we went with the Community Health Improvement Network group to hire a grant writer that can help the city. Searching for grants is growing more and more important,” said Thomas.
City council members voted to apply for a Blue Cross Blue Shield grant for $65,000 to repair a playground the insurance company helped construct. They also voted to apply for a $30,000 grant to build a playground in Ward 2.