A line item in a supplemental appropriation drew the attention of two Wapakoneta City Council members and the city’s administration.
To balance the Wapakoneta City Recreation Department’s budget for the end of the year, a shift of $7,000 from the Wapakoneta WaterPark Fund to the city’s Recreation Fund had to be made to cover outstanding expenses.
While the transfer is necessary this year, Mayor Rodney Metz said he does not want this to happen again in the future.
“I don’t want to see the funds get mixed,” Metz said after Monday’s Wapakoneta City Council meeting. “I want to see the funds stay separate unless there is a joint project that the two of them want to do together and all the parties can reach an agreement regarding the improvement. Otherwise, I want to see the two funds be separate and the two funds to stand alone.”
The 1-mill city recreation levy raises approximately $105,000 per year.
The largest single expense this year from the Wapakoneta City Recreation Department fund was approximately $72,000 for repaving the walking path encircling Veterans Memorial Park. The city is to receive $37,900 from a Nature Works grant through the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, which should be paid by the end of the year.
The next largest expense is approximately $35,000 for maintenance of the parks.
Metz said the city’s responsibility is to keep the funds balanced, but he wants to resolve this issue before next year.
“We have to keep the funds balanced and we believe there has been a few transfers from the Recreation Department to the water park in the past and it would be nice if this transfer back can be paid back early this next year,” Metz said regarding the Wapakoneta City Recreation Board approving the transfer to the water park next year. “The water park has their funds and the Recreation Department has their funds and we definitely want to see better communication regarding both these funds and budget sheets for the Wapakoneta City Recreation Board regarding these funds.”
Metz said he would like Wapakoneta City Recreation Board members provided with spreadsheets outlining expenses to operate the parks and the Wapakoneta WaterPark as well as annual expenses paid to various groups to operate recreational programs for the city and one-time expenses for capital improvement projects.
During Monday’s meeting, Wapakoneta 1st Ward Councilor Jim Neumeier requested an explanation for the transfer along with a balance sheet for the Wapakoneta Recreation Department and the Wapakoneta WaterPark.
“The Wapakoneta City Recreation Board really needs to be kept up-to-date with where they are at throughout the year in regard to the budget,” Neumeier said. “This becomes very important now that we are transferring money back to the Recreation Department.
“I would like to see somebody go back through the records and see the money transferred from the Recreation Department to the pool and from the General Fund to the pool or the Recreation Department,” the Parks and Recreations Committee chair said.
Neumeier voiced his concern because the city Recreation Department has agreed to make annual payments for the next five years to purchase the former Centennial Elementary School property and property near the Wapakoneta Middle School.
“This really becomes a concern now because over the next couple of years we’ve programmed funds to come out of the Recreation Department to help with the purchase of these two pieces of land from the school,” Neumeier said.
The city is expected to pay $65,000 of the $125,000 property deal, with two civic organizations paying $60,000.
Councilor-at-large Wilbur Wells, who chairs the Finance Committee, voiced some apprehension at the transfer during the meeting and with the media after the meeting.
“It is good that the pool is doing well and can transfer some money back, but I hope that trend stops right here and now,” Wells told the Wapakoneta Daily News. “I think there has been some transfers from the Recreation Fund to the pool, but most that people are looking at is a payback.”
Wells agreed with Neumeier regarding finances for the Wapakoneta WaterPark.
“I think the plan all along was for profit from the pool to help it be self-sufficient and to be set aside and put back to make capital improvements down the road,” Wells said.