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BOPARC wants fundraising foundation

Group would help secure grants for city’s park system

The Dominion Post

BOPARC Executive Director Melissa Wiles said BOPARC is in the preliminary stages of setting up a foundation to serve as a fundraising arm of the city’s park system.

“We’ve reached a point with our facilities where they are in need because they have so much age on them. They are in need of major upgrades. BOPARC does not have the ability to afford those upgrades with the self-generated revenue that we bring in and the revenue we do receive,” Wiles said. “A lot of park systems are doing this and BOPARC has been interested in forming a foundation for quite some time.”

As BOPARC is a government agency, there are certain grant-funding sources it cannot pursue. As a tax-exempt entity, the foundation would not be under such restrictions.

Wiles said the process of forming a leadership board is underway.

“We’re also in the process of pursuing the 501c3 designation. It’s my understanding that due to COVID that might take a little bit longer than it normally does,” she said.

The effort comes as BOPARC, and the city as a whole, face budget shortfalls due to COVID-19.

In April, the city adjusted its $39.7 million  budget down by just over $3.1 million. Wiles said that first round of adjustments bumped BOPARC’s spending plan down by nearly $500,000.

“That was the first round of what the city needed to do, and we are likely looking at another budget adjustment in September, but I don’t know yet what that’s going to be,” she said.

Along with a freeze on hiring, those cuts came primarily from capital improvement plans, including an upgrade to the Krepps Park playground, vehicle replacement and operational systems, which included a planned switch to a new payroll system. BOPARC also suffered losses through cuts to coal severance taxes — which the city passes directly through to the agency — and hotel/motel taxes.

 BOPARC’s original planned budget for 2021 was $4,697,671.

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