Jefferson County Judge Jeff Branick admits Ford Park has not gotten the attention it needs the past several years. He says because of financial constraints, the upkeep of the facility has not been a priority for county leaders, and he believes that's added to the challenge facing its management of making the venue successful.
Judge Branick said, "It's kind of like sending college students off and saying go make straight A's and not buying him his textbooks."
But Branick says industry expansion has improved the financial health of the county, and made it the right time for a Ford Park face-lift.
Wednesday afternoon, Ford Park General Manager John Hughes presented commissioner with his to-do list.
The park is seeking an increase in it's operational budget for fiscal year 2013-14 to $1,998,481.
Plus for maintenance issues, there's a request for $1,187,070. Ford Park's entire request for the upcoming fiscal year is $3,185,551.
A priority is replacing the facility's heating, ventilation and air conditioning system. Hughes told us, "We get complaints from performers who say it's too hot, it's too cold, what's wrong with your system."
Other needs include a new arena sound system, replacement of video board and message boards, updating the staging, parking lot repairs and a new security system.
Judge Branick believes security is very important, especially since several mowers have been stolen from Ford Park.
Hughes also wants to up the amount spent on advertising from $15,000 a year to $75,000 annually.
He said, "We're spending in one year, what most places spend in a month."
On a related note, Judge Branick says negotiations to build a hotel at Ford Park continue. He also expressed hope about other opportunities for development at the venue in the near future.
Branick also says he would like all county employees to get a cost of living raise, of about two percent.
He says this current fiscal year, which started on October 1, 2012, county employees received a raise, but it was wiped out as a result of the payroll tax hike in January of this year.
County commissioners have until September 30th to adopt a budget.
Branick is not expecting the tax rate to go up, he believes it might even drop.
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