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home : opinions : opinions January 16, 2019

11/20/2018 1:18:00 PM
SPRD's Operation Shipshape in full swing
By Jeff Tryens SPRD Board President

In preparation for the arrival of a new permanent executive director, the board of the Sisters Park & Recreation District has initiated a series of actions dubbed Operation Shipshape. Thanks to the generosity of Sisters Country voters, the board is finally able to tie-up a lot of organizational loose ends caused by chronic underfunding. Everything from a barely functioning office computer network to an irrigation system on life support has come under scrutiny thanks to Interim Executive Director Courtney Snead.

Operation Shipshape, drawing on the funds made available by the local option tax levy, takes on five key issues: 1. tightening financial management practices; 2. updating staffing policies; 3. upgrading office technology; 4. clearing the maintenance backlog; and 5. increasing staff compensation.

The financial management initiative is two-pronged. First, the budget process will be overhauled to bring it into clearer alignment with state law. According to Interim Executive Director Snead, "the budget has been adopted in compliance with local budget law, but the process we are undertaking will improve the readability and transparency of the budget document so the public can easily ascertain how its tax dollars are being used." Second, the board will adopt a more formal approach to financial controls, providing a framework for staff to improve internal financial checks and balances that are crucial for a mature public organization.

With guidance from Snead, the board adopted a new organizational structure and, again, is putting much-needed procedures in place. Structurally, a single recreation programs director will handle all recreation programming from kids' sports to adult exercise classes and an event coordinator will assure that all SPRD-sponsored and supported events are handled professionally and efficiently. Pre-school and after-school programs will continue in their current forms. Also, by year's end, all staff and instructors will, for the first time in memory, have up-to-date job descriptions and hiring agreements.

The old adage about things being held together by baling wire and chewing gum is not far from the truth regarding SPRD's computer network. Constant breakdowns, antiquated software, poor security and terrible internet access plague the "system." While longer term fixes will be needed, the board is currently spending significant sums on replacing the network's server hub, upgrading software, securing the system from possible hackers and finding reliable technology support services.

From a falling-down rain gutter to exposed irrigation wiring, SPRD is faced with myriad physical plant issues that Snead is prioritizing. First up will be: making the front door at the Collfield Center, SPRD headquarters, easier to open for people with disabilities; rekeying the locks on all the doors - a long-overdue task; fixing the ball field irrigation and, of course, securing the rain gutter. Further down the line, improvements will include upgrading the small playground behind the Coffield Center, improving landscaping around the building, and collaborating with the skate park committee to resurface degrading areas of the skate park.

Finally, the board approved a long-overdue across-the-board 3 percent cost of living increase in July and is instituting a first-ever retirement plan designed to encourage employee contributions by matching employees' contributions up to 3 percent of their annual salary.

Through these efforts the board hopes to provide the new permanent executive director with the freedom to immediately focus on engaging with the community and honing SPRD's strategic vision rather than having to deal with a punch list of problems to be


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