Park district employee salaries increase in 2018-19 budget year

The Homewood-Flossmoor Park District gave its employees an average 3.7 percent salary increase this year. All raises are merit based.
The last to receive a raise was Executive Director Debbie Kopas. The board unanimously approved a 4 percent raise for her at its July 17 meeting. She is the only employee the board actually hires. Kopas supervises all other employees.
Kopas said the park district has 51 full-time employees and each received an evaluation this year and a raise, if applicable, effective May 1, the start of the new fiscal year.
The park district also hires between 550 and 600 part-time employees each year. Part-time employees typically receive their annual evaluations on or around their work anniversary date, she explained. 
The 2018-19 budget is $13.25 million. Salaries and benefits are 52 percent of that. Only 36.5 percent of the corporate budget comes from tax revenues. The remainder is primarily from user fees and rentals of park facilities and other charges for programs.
Steve Johnson, president of the park district’s Board of Commissioners, said the park district “can offer all these programs from the little kids to the senior citizens, but that’s not all being paid by tax dollars. We’ve done a pretty good job of maintaining our services,” despite a loss in tax revenue due to declining property values after the 2008 recession.
Johnson said Kopas’ raise was based on a performance review of how well the executive director meets short- and long-term goals, how fiscally responsible the district is and how well the park district operates.
“Based on that review, the board felt strongly that her salary should be increased by 4 percent,” he said.
The board believes Kopas has done an outstanding job managing the organization and Johnson pointed to the park district being selected the last three years as a Gold Medal finalist among park districts of its size for excellence in park and recreation management. The nomination places H-F Park District as one of the top four park districts in the country. The award is presented by the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration in partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association.
“We’re going in the right direction and Debbie has been the lead on that,” Johnson said. The board looked at competitive marketplace salaries of park district executive directors throughout the state based on size and population, and Kopas’ salary “is within range, but on the low side,” he said. Her last salary was $162,028.
Kopas started with the park district as a staff accountant in May 1991, and was named business manager in October 1993. She was promoted to executive director in May 2006.

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