ITID Supervisors Dissect Park Policy During Workshop

The Indian Trail Improvement District Board of Supervisors met for three-plus hours recently to go over the district’s 11-page parks and recreation policy nearly line by line.

The biggest points of discussion at the Wednesday, June 28 session were where and when the use of alcohol should be allowed, what fees should be charged for the use of various facilities, and should primary athletic fields be for the exclusive use of those entities with a service provider agreement with the district — such as the Acreage Athletic League — or should they be open for rental and use by other groups and organizations?

“One of the things we want to do is get a better handle on how, when and who is using the fields,” ITID Executive Director Burgess Hanson said after the meeting.

To defray the rising cost of maintenance, he said, “some of these amenities should be rented out and not just be there for the exclusive use of one group or organization… as long as it doesn’t interfere with the service provider.”

In fact, how ITID parks will be maintained is one of the major decisions that the supervisors will need to consider at their Tuesday, July 25 board meeting, as the supervisors move toward finalization of the district’s budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

Parks & Recreation Director Kenny Lawrence has said that more staffing — either in-house or outsourced — is needed to properly maintain and oversee the parks, especially Acreage Community Park. Lawrence has proposed a $574,000 increase for maintenance in the 2024 budget, which would allow ITID to outsource maintenance of all of its parks. While the half-million-dollar increase is a big number, Lawrence has said it would negate the need for the district to hire eight or more workers to do the job in house.

The total of the proposed maintenance budget would be $858,121 if all the parks are shifted to oversight by a private company. That number could be cut to approximately $450,000 if only Acreage Community Park’s maintenance is handled by a private company.

Parks and recreation is only one of the items that the supervisors will be looking at as they work toward wrapping up a budget that started out May 31 as a $24 million proposal from staff. At the June 7 meeting, supervisors were told that $4.6 million in possible cuts already had been identified.

Supervisors then set the district’s tentative 2024 Truth-in-Millage (TRIM) rate to cover a possible $19.4 million budget. That means the per-acre assessment increase could be as much as $132, but it cannot be more. If it remains at $132, the average ITID property owner would pay $919 per acre in district assessments.

The 2023 budget is $16.4 million, which represented a $4 million increase over the district’s 2022 budget and an average per acre assessment increase of approximately $180.

ITID has until July 28 to submit its final assessment figures.

In a related matter, Hanson said this week he has met with Palm Beach County officials about moving the proposed artificial turf football field from Acreage Community Park south to north, to take advantage of lighting that already is installed on the north side. Because the project would be funded by $1.5 million from ITID’s share of the Infrastructure Surtax Funding Agreement, it must be approved by the county.

Hanson said that county officials seem supportive, and he hopes work can begin in late fall or winter. The existing grass field in the south side of the park would be refurbished, he added.