Park funds mishandled?

I was disheartened but not surprised to read that Oak Park and Rancho Simi Park districts are having conflicts.

As a former member of the Oak Park committee of RSPD, I have long felt that Larry Peterson has failed to effectively manage the funds allocated to Oak Park.

First off, the AM/PM program was never designed as a money- making enterprise. In the 2013-14 year, RSPD was taking roughly 50 percent of every dollar Oak Park parents paid to AM/ PM and directing those funds back to RSPD.

In the fiscal year 2008-09, the total recreation-revenue intake from fees was $647,000. In fiscal year 2013-14, the revenue from fees was $1.63 million. This is an increase in revenue of $983,000 over a five-year period.

Let’s be clear, there is not one elected representative from Oak Park. The RSPD board members and Larry Peterson put their agenda above the needs of Oak Park residents.

The perfect example is the petty tit-for-tat refusal to pay for the high school tennis courts, which have nothing to do with the money from AM/PM.

Let’s give some context to this issue: RSPD is not a moneymaking enterprise; it is funded by taxes levied on residents.

In 2017 the tax revenue was $1,285.05. This is the money that is allocated for RSPD. The money from AM/PM should never be used for the RSPD general fund.

This is why Oak Park has wisely chosen to take back its program. Parents should get what they pay for; they should not be getting a program that costs 50 percent of what they pay.

But that is really just the tip of the mismanagement iceberg. Let’s look at the Oak Park budget from 2012 moving forward. Every year there has been surplus revenue as follows: in 2012-13, it was $396.13; 2013-14, $629,43; 2014-15, $904,72; and in 2015- 16, the surplus was $1,266.17.

In 2015-16, the budget expenses for Oak Park totaled $2,877,61. The surplus for this period is over $1.2 million, roughly 40 percent of the total expenses for that year.

In comparison, Oak Park Unified School District usually has a 3 percent surplus—3 percent versus 40 percent.

In the approved 2016-17 budget, there is money set aside for capital projects—mostly the Mae Boyar building—of $684,74 and a projected budget surplus of $833,96. Together these two numbers represent $1,518,70. That is $1.5 million to build the new building at Mae Boyar.

Larry Peterson has collected those funds from the residents today for a building he may—or may not—build tomorrow.

If Oak Park residents want a say in how their money is being spent, they will need to make their voices heard.

Peter Coopersmith Oak Park

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