PORTER | After a public hearing on the town of Porter’s budget, which trimmed $250,000 from last year’s budget, Town Council President Elka Nelson asked the council to consider bringing the Park Board under the town’s control, a move she once opposed.
A move the rest of the council later endorsed and moved toward implementing.
Nelson said her opinion is based on dollars and cents.
“A few years ago, I was vehemently opposed to this. I would have lain down in front of a train to stop it. But now with the economy and the Park Board’s struggles to bring themselves to where they want to be, I am for it,” Nelson said.
She said the reorganization can save money and resources in a time when cutting costs is critical. Nelson estimated the move could save the town some $6,000 in duplicate fees.
“I want to make it clear that my thoughts are that this is something that can help our budget and duplication of expenses, help our street department provide services to the park without having to go through red tape. ... It just makes sense at this point,” she said.
Nelson suggested the Park Board become an advisory board so it can focus on park vision, goals and activities “instead of being inundated with budgets and claims.”
Former Park Board member Al Raffin said he was disappointed council members ran against this issue even though the same claims were made by the last board. He also questioned the assertion it will save money.
Council member Jeannine Virtue said she wanted the public to have the opportunity to have input on this issue but she saw the move as a positive one. Council member Dave Pomeroy said the town has had cash flow problems for years and that this would be a step to getting the books in order.
Park Board President Rondi Wightman said she felt forced into the current structure by Nelson and Virtue who urged the board to take on two full-time employees in the past.
The council voted 4-1 -- with Greg Stinson opposed -- to have attorney Gregg Sobkowski draft an ordinance to bring the Park Board under the council’s governance.