After the discovery of some unexpected funds from the Petal Sports Association, the Petal Board of Aldermen has approved a budget amendment that will add $30,000 to the city’s Parks and Recreation Department to hire temporary employees in advance of some upcoming baseball and softball tournaments.
The measure was taken at an April 12 special-called meeting of the board, about a week after board members had voted not to approve adding three additional laborers to the department. Historically, the city has used inmate labor to prepare the ball fields, but that option is no longer available as the Forrest County Work Center has been closed down.
“We weren’t able to use any of that labor, which put a really big strain on us because we needed people to prepare the fields,” Ward 3 Alderman Clint Moore said. “The board (previously) voted against the measure because the money wasn’t in the budget for positions – we were getting free labor from the county.
“So after we voted it down, a few of us aldermen got together and really wanted to make this work. We took a good look at the numbers, and basically the Petal Sports Association is going to give us more money this year than they had originally projected to give us – they’re doing better than they thought they would.”
The city had anticipated receiving $100,000 from the PSA, but based on facility rentals and other factors, officials are confident the association will contribute at least $140,000. In addition, the Forrest County Board of Supervisors usually gives $4,500 each year to the city, which went to support the Petal Optimist Park, the Petal Baseball Association or the PSA.
However, about two years ago, when the county donated $100,000 to the city for the PSA, that $4,500 was left out. That sum also was not given for this budget year, although it was still part of the county’s budget.
“So when they found they hadn’t given us the money, they decided to go ahead and give us the money for last year and this year,” Moore said. “So we’re getting an additional $9,000 of revenue there.
“So we feel like PSA’s going to give us an additional $40,000 or so, and we know that the county is going to give us $9,000.”
Now, Parks and Recreation Department director Brian Hall will be able to take $5,000 from his overtime budget and add to a $35,000 budget increase in revenue. That will allow him to use Express Employment to fill labor needs in the department throughout the budget year.
“I love it; I think it’s great;” Moore said. “One of the things I ran on seven years ago, and today, was having a city that’s great for families, and obviously, sports is a big part of that.
“You’ve got to do it within the means that you have – you can’t break the bank on it – but this is a net neutral thing for the city. We’re not spending any more money than we’re bringing in, and I’m glad to see that Petal Sports Association is over-performing from their projections. It just means that more people are taking advantage of those services and getting to have a good time.”