Monday, October 31, 2011

Budget Message for FY'2013

In October of every year the Northern Virginia Regoinal Park Authority (NVRPA) adopts its budget for the next fiscal year. This early adoption allows this information to be considered as the six member jurisdiction develop their budgets for the coming year. Below is the cover letter of the budget. Budgets, and audits are posted on to provide maximum financial transparency.

NVRPA is one of the most efficient public agencies in the country. And providing regional attractions that are central to the tourism economy of Northern Virginia.

October 2011

Budget Message from NVRPA’s Executive Director

I am pleased to present the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority (NVRPA) Budget for Fiscal Year 2013 (July 1, 2012 – June 30, 2013).

Despite three years of economic recession, a focus on efficiency and a commitment to our mission and strategic plan have kept NVRPA in a positive position. Our continued focus on achieving results that support our mission and enhance our community drove the development of our FY2013 budget, which represents a total Operating Budget of $20,748,582, and a Capital Budget of $4,940,253.


NVRPA is one of the most cost effective park agencies in the nation. For FY2013, NVRPA will support 83% of its operating costs with enterprise operations (non-tax revenues). The percentage of taxpayer support for operations has gone from 20.01% in FY2005 to 17.11% in FY2013.

% of operating costs covered by enterprise revenues
(2005, 2009, 2013)

These remarkable statistics reflect several factors. First, the taxpayer support from our member jurisdictions has not kept pace with either inflation or population growth over the last several years. Due to the recession, we have not adjusted the per capita appropriations rate to keep pace with inflation since 2008, and we have not updated the appropriations to account for population growth for three years in a row. Secondly, during the same time we have continued to work on enhancing our services to the public, which has resulted in the growth and diversification of our enterprise revenues.

Salaries as a % of operating expenses
(2005, 2009, 2013)

Another important indicator is our significant gain in productivity. In FY2005, salaries made up 54.9% of our operating costs, and, in the FY2013 budget, salaries are only 49.2% of operating costs. This represents at least a 5.7% increase in productivity. We have grown our services and operations significantly faster than our staffing and related expenses.

NVRPA has a long history of delivering conservation and recreation facilities and programs in a very business-like manner, with a high focus on innovation and efficiency. Continuing this trend into FY2013 will be a 1.23% decrease in General Fund revenues, and a 4.26% increase in Enterprise Fund revenues.

Focus on Mission:

“Conservation of regional natural and cultural resources” is a central part of our mission. Over the last few years we have added over 450 acres of new parkland. We anticipate that new parks like White’s Ford and Gilbert’s Corner will have basic facilities to allow greater public access in FY2013. By FY2013 we also anticipate that we will add two new properties to our operations, the Webb Sanctuary in Clifton and the Rust Sanctuary in Leesburg, as a result of a new partnership with the Audubon Naturalist Society. The operational revenues and expenses for these two sites are included in the FY2013 budget.

Providing “diverse regional recreational and educational opportunities” is another important part of our mission. In support of that, we are anticipating a more than 20% increase in special events revenues for FY2013. Included in this increase is a new holiday light display that will be installed at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens, as well as projected increases at the Bull Run annual Festival of Lights and a variety of smaller increases related to events in a number of parks. Our plans for 2013 include creating a “diverse regional recreational” experience at Upton Hill Regional Park with a high adventure ropes course. Regional “educational opportunities” will be expanded with War of 1812 interpretation at the Carlyle House Historic Park. And, we hope to better connect the region’s trail network in a number of ways, including a connector trail between the W&OD Trail and Meadowlark Gardens, and a trail development partnership involving the City of Fairfax and other partners.

Our strategic plan, which was adopted in late 2007, has been a driving force in all that we have done over the last few years. Integration of this plan with our annual budget, and our high focus on budget transparency, have resulted in our budgets winning the Government Financial Officers Association (GFOA) Distinguished Budget Presentation Awards for the last four years. Early in FY2013, NVRPA will adopt a new strategic plan that we are currently working on, and that will guide our actions and promote further accomplishments in the years to come.

Economic Engine for the Region:

While some local parks are designed to primarily serve the needs of their neighborhoods, the Regional Park system is focused on “destination sites.” As such, we contribute to the backbone of the tourism economy for Northern Virginia. Tourism is the Number Two industry in Virginia. In FY2012, NVRPA hosted a national conference that contributed around $350,000 to the local economy, and organized the Battle of Ball’s Bluff re-enactment, attracting thousands of people to travel to our area and contributed more than $1,000,000 to the region’s economy. In FY2013, NVRPA will contribute millions to the local tourism economy, helping the region recover from the recession. These contributions will include the following:

• Over 400 premier events, receptions and weddings at NVRPA locations

• First full year of the internationally unique Korean Bell Garden at Meadowlark Gardens, attracting visitors from around the world

• Attracting over 15,000 spectators from all over the east coast to the rowing regattas at the world class facilities at Sandy Run Regional Park

• 22,000 camp site rentals, serving tourists from all over the nation

• Continued leadership role in promoting the 150th Anniversary of the American Civil War, with numerous programs, exhibits and activities to attract visitors

• Events and exhibits to attract historic tourism for the War of 1812

• Promotion of the W&OD Trail as a cycling tourist destination of national significance

• Continued growth of numerous destination events at the Bull Run Special Events Center and numerous other parks within the NVRPA system

The NVRPA Board and staff have been working on a series of new facilities to be constructed over the next several years, which will expand the great attractions our region has to offer and contribute more to our economy.

For a public investment of just $4.63 per capita ($2.0626 for operating & $2.57 for capital) the citizens of our region benefit from nearly 11,000 acres of regional parks, much of which buffer our major rivers, and provide remarkable nature and historical experiences. This investment also supports and enhances the local economy, and is leveraged by one of the most efficient and entrepreneurial public agencies in the nation.


Paul Gilbert

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