Once plans take shape for Luckey Climber repairs, budgeted funds will follow

A plan will be developed to make improvements for the Luckey Climber indoor playground before monies are budgeted for capital investment, The Commons Board has decided.

The Commons, which had budgeted $500,000 for capital items this year, has proposed no dollars for capital expenditures in 2018 since several improvements in the facility have already taken place or are forthcoming, said Pam Harrell, director of business services for the city’s parks and recreation department.

The Commons’ proposed budget for next year is $999,986, a decrease of about $462,000 compared to the 2017 budget, Harrell said. The difference is attributed to the $500,000 in money designated for capital needs not being included in next year’s budget.

Harrell said a plan first needs to be developed about how to proceed with the indoor playground before designating any capital money for the project. Commons Board members said earlier this year the amount of use at the 5,000-square-foot playground has resulted in some equipment showing wear, requiring repairs or replacements to be made.

“Once we get a better feel for the playground, we will make an appropriation,” Harrell said.

The appropriation would come out of The Commons’ cash reserves, which has a balance in excess of $1 million. Money in the facility’s cash reserves is collected primarily through lease payments, performance hall rentals and Economic Development Income Tax funds, Harrell said.

Some improvements already have been made this year or are slated to occur this fall. For example, a chiller for restaurant spaces on the lower level that cost $6,160 already has been replaced, Harrell said. About $31,500 in repairs to a section of the upper-level wooden floor, including sanding, are planned for November, she said.

Any appropriations that would be sought for capital improvements would require approval by the Commons Board, the Columbus Park Board and then Columbus City Council.

Commons Board member Erin Hawkins said that safety at the playground is one of the Commons Board’s primary concerns.

“The staff of The Commons is one of the most competent and conscientious group of people in our community and the board has great confidence in their ability to perform research and make a recommendation,” Hawkins said.

Public input will be helpful in making a final determination about the playground’s future, Hawkins said.

The city’s 2018 budget must be approved by Nov. 1.

Budget highlights

Proposed 2018 Commons budget: $999,986

  • Includes a 2 percent raise, which is being proposed for all city employees next year. This reflects a $8,913 increase.
  • Electric expenses increase of $16,000; $158,500 requested for 2018.
  • Property taxes increase of $5,000; $20,000 requested for 2018.
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Matt Kent is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at 812-379-5712 or mkent@therepublic.com