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Southern Lakes Parks & Rec Weathers Funding Challenges, Offers New Classes

Property tax values are leveling off after four years; organization has 12 new programs for adults, teens and children.

Like many entities that depend on property taxes, Southern Lakes Parks and Recreation (SLPR) has had some tough times. But after four years of decreasing property values, funding is recovering, said Director Vince Paris.

"The last four years has been somewhat brutal," Paris said. "It's finally leveled off."

Last year's property tax revenue was $381,000, he said, and this year, it's within a couple hundred dollars of that.

SLPR’s budget has two areas, administration ($400,000) and recreation (approximately $660,000), he said. Staff and board members are working on the 2013 budget, which will be ready in about six weeks. SLPR’s budget is based on the calendar year.

Due to funding, one of the big changes has been going from seven full-time staff to four, he said. They've added part-time staff to fill in.

And there's growth in programming, with new offerings for adults and children. People are asking for new and different activities, Paris said, and there's more interest in gymnastics and swimming.

This relates to the Summer Olympics, said Kristen Archambeau, Recreation, Enrichment & League Programmer/Dance Director for SLPR. People registering for programs have said their child was watching Olympic gymnastics on TV and wanted to try the sport.

A new class for boys 6-12 will be Gymnastics for the All Around Athlete, beginning  Friday. It’s described as using gymnastics equipment and training to build strength, coordination, balance and flexibility, developing the athlete as a whole.

Another new option is baton twirling, said Nancy Muffley, Recreation, Enrichment & League/Event programmer. The 12-week program is for girls and boys ages 6-12 and will begin Oct. 2 at West Shore Elementary.

"We're hoping that it will take off," Paris said.

New dance classes include a Holiday Dance Workshop, which will be from 1:30-4:30 p.m. on Dec. 8. It's at Lake Fenton Middle School, and children 5 and older will dance, make a craft and decorate holiday cards.

In addition, SLPR has added lyrical dance, which is described as fun, flowing routines set to popular music. This is for ages 7-8 and 9-14.

Another program is kids karate, Archambeau said. The first session begins Monday at Fenton Karate. The second session begins Oct. 2 at Lake Fenton Middle School’s cafeteria.

The child's uniform is included with the fee for the class, and parents can train with their children for free. They will learn anti-kidnapping techniques and ways to stay safe. Uniforms for parents aren't included, she said.

New classes also include tennis for students grades 1-5, and middle school/high school tennis. Clinics will teach the fundamentals, along with basics of match play and strengthening strokes to develop power and control. There are two session, at Fenton, route: {:controller=>"listings", :action=>"show", :id=>"fenton-high-school"} --> and

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