Sylvan Lake councillors included new parks staff and park improvements in the 2013 budget, following discussions spread over Oct. 30 and 31, and Nov. 3.
Ron Lebsack, director of leisure and protective services, proposed increasing staff to maintain service levels. The new positions will include one fulltime parks operator, a part-time landscape gardener, and two seasonal parks operators. The additions will cost a combined total of $103,300.
“I think they’re being frugal in what they’re asking for in terms of number of staff,” said Mayor Susan Samson.
Councillor Graham Parsons also supported the staff additions.
“I just know that the recreation department and what they have to look after this coming year is significant,” said Parsons.
Councillor Laverne Asselstine did not agree with the additions, citing the slower economy as a reason to hold back from hiring new workers.
“Our projection for the next year or even two years is that we’re going to continue to grow … It’s naive to think that we can manage on the same number of staff,” said Councillor Dale Plante.
Councillor Rick Grimson agreed with Plante, and said the new additions were a necessary expense.
“The staff in any business, they’re the most valuable asset we have … You start chinzing on staff, you might as well save money someplace else,” said Grimson.
Improvements to three parks were included in the budget. The bathroom in Lion’s Park will be relocated, and the gazebo remodelled to match the new town hall. Four Seasons Park will receive upgrades to their storm drainage system, signs, and chain link fencing. Railway Park’s mulch will be replaced with grass to reduce maintenance work.