May Nissen Park 01-30-21 111

As part of a playground renovation project, Livermore Area Recreation and Park District's May Nissen Park opened in December 2019. (Photo -Doug Jorgensen)

The Livermore Area Recreation and Park District’s (LARPD) budget is back in the black, four months after the district was forced to lay off employees and cut spending across the organization to account for a projected $2.4 million budget deficit for the fiscal year.

In October, LARPD implemented a board-approved revised budget and reorganization plan that bridged the bulk of the projected budget gap by slashing millions of dollars in employee salary and benefit expenses.

The revised budget took into account worst-case projections for revenues and expenses, following several months of sustained declines in programing revenue due to COVID-19 park facility closures, as well as higher-than-expected unemployment expenses.

As a result, the district is currently in good financial shape and continues to trend favorably, Jeffrey Schneider, LARPD administrative services manager, told the board during a financial update at the board’s regular meeting Jan. 27.

“This came as the result of some really tough decisions that the board made with our input,” Schneider said.

On the horizon, the district is still grappling with how to address increasing liabilities from pensions and other post-employment benefits, which may result in a future recommendation to issue pension obligation bonds.

According to the most recently available audited financial report, the district’s pension liability in the 2019-2020 fiscal year increased to nearly $16 million, up from the previous year’s figure of about $7 million.

District General Manager Mathew Fuzie in his monthly report for January expressed optimism going forward.

“We will not be one of those special districts who have to go into debt to pull through,” he wrote. “We will be ready to begin programming and continue the programming we are allowed. For our organization, I am of the opinion that the worst is behind us because we acted quickly, thoughtfully and decisively.”