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Public Works, golf course budget seeking boosts

WORTHINGTON -- Public works and Prairie View Golf Links representatives presented their department budgets for 2012 to Worthington City Council members Thursday.

The total Public Works budget has increased about $13,000 from 2011, to a projected $1,290,293.

Street operations, lake improvements, park supervision and operations are a few areas which contributed to a higher overall operating cost. City-wide spring cleanup, however, is down significantly by about $33,000 from the previous year.

In a related matter to park operations, council members heard from parks supervisor Scott Rosenberg about recent recommendations made by the League of Minnesota Cities to replace old and outdated equipment that does not meet "standards for public playgrounds under the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Public Playground Safety Handbook."

Recommendations include removing older equipment with entrapment hazards and replacing or repairing old swingsets because of insufficient spacing between each swing.

"Right now we (the city's parks board) created an application to the (Worthington Regional) HealthCare Foundation to apply for a grant to try get to some dollars there," Public Works Director Jim Laffrenzen said.

Funds to rectify substandard playground equipment are not included in the budget.

"We have to have a plan on how we are going to address the issues," Rosenberg added.

Alderman Lyle Ten Haken was in favor of a plan, complete with a time frame that would identify works that need to be done.

"If we have to sit in front of a court opportunity, it (the plan) would put us in a defensible mode," Ten Haken said. "Without anything, you're looking pretty guilty."

The expenditure for Prairie View Golf Links is projected to be $209,135, which is about a $22,000 increase from the previous year. A few major changes in the budget are due to an increase in gas prices and higher costs associated with chemicals and chemical products for greens maintenance.

"Everything we're doing is a playable golf course," said Prairie View Superintendent Kevin Black.

Black added that the increases are based on a history of previous expenses and "the fact that we've been bare bones for so long."

Council members will meet today to discuss the event center budget and recap previous department budgets.