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H-F park commissioners confront minimum wage increases in budget plans

Homewood-Flossmoor Park District officials are struggling with how best to pay the increases in the state’s minimum wage as they plan for the coming year’s budget.

The next fiscal year starts May 1. The board of commissioners expects to collect $14 million in revenue. So far, it shows expenses of $14.3 million, and administrators will be working to eliminate that $300,000 deficit by the time the budget is adopted, said Debbie Kopas, parks executive director.

As park commissioners reviewed proposed department budgets at a Tuesday, March 3, meeting, they learned many of the park district’s staff – from camp counselors to outside maintenance crews – will benefit from the new pay rates, but planning for those increases means raising fees or setting aside projects.

Over the next 18 months, the minimum wage will go up 33 percent. In December 2019, the rate was $8.25 per hour. It jumped to $9.25 per hour on Jan. 1. It will increase to $10 in July and it will be raised to $11 on Jan. 1, 2021.

The park district is expecting to cover more than 10,000 hours of part-time pay for the Stomping Grounds summer day camp, other summer activities and the park district’s Extra Innings before and after school programs. Each program will see a price increase. 

At the H-F Racquet & Fitness Center, an additional $17,000 will be needed to cover 34 staffers who will get raises. The case is similar for the part-time maintenance staff at Coyote Run and at Wiley’s Grill at the Coyote Run Clubhouse where an estimated $13,500 will cover part-time minimum wages.

The board will use a state grant to update the Homewood Estates Park this coming year, and will be installing new play equipment at a pocket park at Cedar Road and Highland Avenue in Homewood.

Special cleaning treatments for the high ceilings is on the schedule at the racquet club, as well as new flooring in the track area and new TVs in the exercise areas. Staff is budgeting $8,000 for a review of the HVAC system at the club.

The park’s Ice Arena is generating more revenue from additional teams renting ice time. Part of that increased revenue will be used to purchase the coolant for making the ice. The price has doubled to $20,000. 

The updates at the Irwin Center are on schedule and will continue into the next budget year. The bathrooms are being updated, and new flooring, light fixtures and furnishings are part of the 2020-21 budget cycle.

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