• FAQs: Specific Issues

    Common questions about: Recreation-only departments; Revenue enhancement; Fluid responsibilities; Etc.

    Q: What should we do if our department is recreation-specific and has no jurisdiction over lands?
    A: You have the option of simply leaving the land-related questions blank.

    We have also received a question related to a community where the parks department functions separately from the recreation department. Since they may only have information for the recreation department how do they address this in PRORAGIS? If this is the case, it will be to their benefit for reporting and analysis purposes if they can combine information from the two departments into one PRORAGIS account. This assumes that both departments share the same lands and facilities as a base for programs and services. If, in fact, the two departments have separate sites and functions, then they should each register and complete a profile. If both agencies are using the same profile, they should provide data for all of the lands, facilities, programs, and personnel over which they have combined budget responsibility.

    If, however, the two agencies are not completing a shared profile, then neither department should include data about the other that would result in duplication or skewing of responses.

    Q: Is there any way to handle seasonal population? For some communities that have a large influx of summer residents, their budget is based on that population.
    A: Use the population number that the budget is based on (whether resident or seasonal). If you’d like, you can also indicate the resident vs. seasonal population in the comments at the bottom of the page and make a note of which you entered above.

    Q: How do we address overlap when departmental responsibilities are fluid? In some circumstances the responsibilities of the Park and Recreation, Public Works, Administration, Finance, or Engineering department may have shared budgets.
    A: The more information you can contribute, the more useful the database will prove for your agency. NRPA would like to receive all of a locality’s relevant data in a single profile. NRPA recognizes that sometimes the snow-plowing or leaf-collecting funding for your staff may be included in another department’s budget. If it is possible, please collaborate with all associated departments in order to compile all of the relevant information into a single profile.

    Q: Some departments have been waiting for their Census data to be released before they complete their profile. Should we wait for Census data if it has not yet been released?
    A: It is NRPA’s expectation that all the information requested by PRORAGIS can be answered by the local Park and Recreation department. None of the questions should require Census data for response.

    Q: Will our department be asked to reveal employee salary specifics?
    A: We do not ask questions specific to particular positions such as, “What is your park director’s salary?” Rather, we aggregate such information, asking about the apportioning of salaries and wages to entire department categories. The only partial exception is the question relating to whether or not the board or commission members are paid for their service. This information allows us to respond to a question that frequently arises.

    Q: Since PRORAGIS is user-driven, how do I know there is someone on the other end making sure the data is accurate? For example, I don't want to compare my costs to other agencies that do not make a distinction between maintaining developed and undeveloped land.
    A: Since PRORAGIS is user-driven, we are inherently dependent on the persons submitting their data accurately. We are continually striving to make the form as straightforward as possible. Additionally, we provide explanations throughout the form to help agencies complete their profiles in a consistent manner. On the reporting side, PRORAGIS offers side-by-side reporting that allows users to review the data for each agency to which they are comparing themselves. Users therefore have the option of excluding anyone they feel is not an appropriate benchmarking “fit.”

    Industry Insights, the firm responsible for maintaining the database also periodically reviews all of the data in the system for inconsistencies, irregularities, and errors. When necessary, Industry Insights will reach out to participating agencies for clarification on questionable items.

    Q: Should total acreage include trails?
    A: Yes, you should include the Right-Of-Way acreage of the trail that is not on other parklands.

    Q: Why isn’t there more information concerning sports programs (or other departmental functions) when some departments consider it a huge part of their responsibility and wellbeing?
    A: Given the variability of program and operation details, it is not feasible to conduct a mass survey of specifics for each agency. PRORAGIS focuses on the key information that enables you to select departments, operations or programs that are similar to yours. If you are seeking more specific information you can contact the similar departments and discuss the details with them. The programs listed in the profile reflect information that relates to questions that have consistently arisen during actual benchmarking projects. For example, whether or not the department’s employees are members of a union makes a significant difference in how workload is carried out, staffing levels and cost. Exactly how union representation impacts the department is left for a discussion between you and the similar department.

    Q: What revenue-enhancing features of PRORAGIS are currently in place?
    A: An agency may be able to identify program areas that are lacking or program areas that other like-sized agencies offer that they do not. Additionally, a key revenue-supporting strength of the system allows agencies to defend budgets based on local, regional, national, or other custom-filtered benchmarks pulled from the data.

    Q: What revenue-enhancing features are planned as the system matures?
    A: As the system matures, it will offer users the ability to tie in demographic information and operations-related data with the GIS—so as to identify revenue opportunities and underserved areas within jurisdictions. Also in the pipeline are mobile apps such as park locators and park events calendars. These can be used for increasing tourism to facilities and special events.

    Q: How much detailed analysis will we be able to do with budget comparisons with other departments?
    A: The budget section is organized as a top-down approach with operating expenditure analysis from both a categorical level (Personnel, Operations, Capital, and Other) and a functional level (i.e., Executive, Administrative, Operations, Programs, Maintenance, etc.) You can perform any analysis that draws from these categories.

    The intent of the budget data is to provide PRORAGIS with the information it needs to calculate a variety of budget-related metrics. It is also intended to allow the user to quickly judge the similarity between their departments. Further “drilling down” of data depends on your contacting the other benchmark agencies with specific questions relevant to your study. There are so many possible budget variables it would unfair to ask all profiling agencies to provide that level of detail. We do try to get as much information as we logically will need without overburdening respondents.

    Q: How transparent are budget matters such as chargebacks to other departments? We want to be sure we're doing apples-to-apples budget comparisons!
    A: We don't specifically ask about chargebacks. We do, however, ask about various functions and if the agency/department is responsible or whether the jurisdiction or another department in the jurisdiction bears responsibility for the function.

    The budget items, such as chargebacks to other departments, fall into the same category as the answer to question 5. If in a side-by-side report an agency appears to be similar to yours, you can clarify with them whether or not they have chargebacks as part of their accounting system. Many agencies do not bother with such accounting practices.

    Q: Should we inventory only the lands that are recognized as parks and open spaces? Or should we inventory even tiny parcels of land (e.g., median strips and parking lot areas) for which our agency is responsible?
    A: Everything your agency manages or maintains should be included.

    The cost of maintaining the small parcels is incredibly expensive compared to their acreage. I [Bill Beckner] once conducted a maintenance analysis of an agency that had 2000 acres being mowed by three equally-sized mowing crews. Two of these crews mowed 1931 acres. The third mowed 69 acres in over 130 park sites. We ask you to indicate the amount of land that your agency manages or maintains so as to allow for a more accurate comparison of how maintenance resources are distributed.

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