After meeting every week for the past 60 days, the Warner Robins Recreation Advisory Board made their final recommendation to mayor and council Monday night.
Advisory Board Vice Chairman Andy Thomas was able to present a final recommendation to mayor and council. He called it the Board’s ‘Super Bowl.’ Thomas also said the Board’s work was done and now it was up to the council to decide what to do next.
“I don't know why they wouldn't go ahead and authorize all the money and put it on the RDA board or the EDA board together to get this work done, but that's above my pay grade,” Thomas said after his presentation.
It turns out, the council could not authorize using all the money the Board thought was available. The Board had been working with a budget based off the 2012 SPLOST money that was set aside for recreation.
But city officials realized last Tuesday the $4.3 million available from the SPLOST all had to go towards a new recreation center, not renovations. They say they realized it after talking with the city attorney.
Three council members realized it in a meeting they had last week to discuss budget issues. They said even with the confusion, the recommendations from the Board were helpful.
“Well, I think I can speak for all of us. We appreciate the hard work, the dedication, the time away from their families and jobs, and we're definitely going to take their recommendations into consideration and see how we can make some of them we agree with and some of them we may not, but we're going to look at it pretty hard,” Councilman Tim Thomas said while seated next to Councilman Clifford Holmes and Councilwoman Carolyn Robbins.
The council voted to move $2.5 million from the reserve fund to the park improvement budget.
New parks director Jarred Reneau says even with the budget confusion, the board did not waste their time.
“I don't think their time was wasted because from their study, and I know all the hours they spent into it, I was at the meetings as well, and I know how much work that the whole board did and behind the scenes. I think their input is going to be well taken,” Reneau explained outside the council chambers.
Reneau said renovations could start almost immediately.
Since the council approved moving the $2.5 million to the parks budget, Reneau will now have almost $4 million to use on park renovations not associated with a new recreation center.
The council also approved spending $450,000 for a new Vietnam Veterans' park. The park is supposed to go next to the city's new visitor center that will built near I-75.