VALPARAISO | When they all scream for ice cream this summer at many of the city's parks, a vendor probably will be available to sell them some.
The city's Park Board approved contracts Tuesday with two vendors. Greg Simms Sr. was given the right to sell ice cream at Bicentennial, Tower, Kirchhoff, Glenrose North and Westside parks. Valpo Velvet owners Mike and Cathy Brown were awarded the contract for Central Park Plaza.
Parks Director John Seibert said the department wanted to get local vendors and make sure the vendor for the downtown park was a downtown business. Simms annual rent is $500, while the Browns' must pay $150. The parks department has final say over items sold, prices and hours of operation.
The board also approved a two-year extension of the contract with Northwest Indiana Community Action Corp. for use of two rooms at the Banta Activity Center. The Crown Point-based counseling service will pay $650 a month beginning Aug. 1 and $700 a month beginning Aug. 1, 2014.
Business Operations Supervisor Christy Graf said NWICA has rented space at Banta for several years. The department realized two years ago that the rent was very low, compared with other locations, and began increasing it $50 per year.
Seibert said the first half property tax payment to the parks from the county was 47 percent of the amount levied for the year, which was more than the department has received in recent years and helped put the parks' budget in much better shape than the past couple of years.
The payment put the midyear balance at almost $1.1 million, compared with $979,041 a year ago. While that's no guarantee of what the second half payment will be, Seibert said, if it again approaches 47 percent in December, the parks shouldn't have to borrow to pay bills between tax draws.
He said the department continues to underspend what was budgeted for the year and is holding off on capital purchases until the final year accounting is in.