BREC approves $80 million budget for 2014

The Baton Rouge Recreation and Park Commission unanimously approved a nearly $80 million budget Wednesday for the coming year.

The board had little discussion over the spending plan, and no one spoke during a public hearing on it.

The board set aside $480,000 to offset the costs of its election in April to determine whether its ad valorem property tax rates should be renewed. According to the budget summary, departmental budgets were basically left even for the coming year.

The 14.038 mills levied by the park commission is expected to generate nearly $50.7 million in the coming year — up from $49.9 million this year.

Some new fees and fee increases also have been added to the BREC budget approved Wednesday.

New kayak paddling programs will range from $5 to $25 while the cost of having a birthday party at the Baton Rouge Zoo will go up by $3 — from $125 to $128. Other new programs slated for 2014 include Ultimate Frisbee sessions and camping workshops. In all, BREC is expecting to bring in nearly $9.5 million from user fees and sales.

BREC Superintendent Carolyn McKnight said the commission has urged BREC to look for ways to generate more revenue.

“We believe these fees are fair and we’re hoping to analyze them as we go forward,” she said.

More than $13.5 million is designated to go toward capital improvement projects in the coming year with an additional $9.4 million going to maintenance.