Taxpayers' bill for keeping up local parks

Taxpayers' bill for keeping up local parks »Play Video
TRI-CITIES, Wash. -- The gorgeous weather has people making their way to Tri-Cities parks again. It takes a lot of work to keep the parks ready for regular visits.

Courtney Frisbee grew up in Richland and uses the city's parks a couple times a week. She says she's always happy with the upkeep.

"Trails are great, the walking and biking trails are awesome, the playground always looks really nice," she said.

There are some concerns she hopes will be addressed.

She said, "The City of Richland could keep up on some of the trash near the water."

Richland is tasked with keeping the parks beautiful while still keeping on budget.

Joe Schiessl, director of Richland Parks and Recreation, said, "We're taking some pretty significant steps over the last several years to make ourselves as lean and mean as we can and to use that taxpayer money very efficiently."

Each city spends millions on its parks. Over the past three years, Richland budgeted the same: a little more than $4 million a year.

Kennewick increased its yearly budget by about $500,000 recently. It spends just shy of $5 million on its extensive park system.

Pasco also added to its budget, increasing yearly spending to just north of $2 million. This doesn't include the recent multimillion dollar upgrades to the pool and new splash park. Both will open this spring.

Rick Terway, Pasco's Administrative and Community Services Director, said, "In fact, it's the only 50-meter pool in the surrounding area. The swim teams really like coming to meets here because of the facility."

Kennewick allows events and special car sales to be held at Columbia Park with rental fees to help offset maintenance.

Richland says it tries to save money by adjusting schedules for workers and improving their fleet.

Courtney said, "I think it's awesome that they don't have to use more of our money but they're still able to keep it where it's at."

Pools are expected to open the second week of June, right when schools let out for summer break.