She stressed she’s certainly not objecting to the savings. “I just want to make sure we’re not penny wise and pound foolish.”

City managing director Francis Dougherty said “one of the biggest chunks of savings” comes from the city closing a large parks maintenance building across Linden Street from Allentown School District stadium.

“I no longer have maintenance needs, heating needs, fuel oil, electricity,” said Dougherty, who added that savings will total about $50,000.

Holtzman said the city also has decreased the use of chemicals on park vegetation to save money.

“How will that impact?” asked Eichenwald.

Holtzman said it might mean one less application of lawn fertilizer or one less application of herbicide.

He said people “possibly” will notice the difference, but added the city applied plenty of chemicals on its athletic fields this year and succeeded in getting them into good shape. In 2014, he said, “we can back off just a little bit” and still maintain them.

Holtzman estimated using fewer chemicals will save the parks department about $10,000.

Dougherty said chemicals were being ordered by lower level managers and stockpiled at a number of places in the park system rather than used. Those stored chemicals now are being used and Holtzman said additional chemicals will be purchased only when needed.

He said the department also will reduce contracted spraying services by about $20,000. “We’ll do that in-house now.”

He explained the city bought a lot of lawn equipment this year, so will need to buy less equipment in 2014.

Explaining cuts were made across the board, Holtzman said: “Maybe this year we’re not going to get as many trees or we’re not going to put as much mulch down or something like that.

“We looked at things we could cut back on and not affect our park system and I think we’ve done that,” said Holtzman. “We’ve gone to a better system of doing things.”

For example, he said the city now uses better quality mulch for playgrounds, which lasts up to three years. “You will see savings there.”

Swimming pools

During the meeting, council member Cynthia Mota announced the Trexler Trust will do a new parks and recreation study that will include a detailed review of the city’s aging swimming pools.

Mota said the city faces pool maintenance and repair costs that total
$12 million. She said the trust also may fund some of those needed improvements.

Mikowychok said two additional full-staffers will help manage the mechanical systems of the city’s four pools and two spray parks over the summer.

Some members of City Council believe Allentown needs more swimming pools – it once had eight -- and that Fountain Park pool along Martin Luther King Drive should be rehabilitated to serve center-city children. That pool has been closed since 2009.

Mikowychok indicated some pool admission fees will increase in 2014, but declined to say by how much, adding those fees still are being developed. He said a discounted family pass will be offered. Those fees must be approved by City Council.

Schweyer said City Council does not typically pass a budget “based on numbers that we don’t know.”

Mikowychok indicated the 2014 budget is based on 2013 pool fees,
adding: “We did not want to assume the pool fees would be approved in our budget submission.”

He said a swimming pool concession stand will open at the Jordan Park pool next summer. He said the city opened its first concession stand at the Cedar Beach pool this year and it was successful. He said the stands will offer hot dogs and snacks, adding fountain sodas will be offered rather than bottled soda.

Mikowychok said bath houses at all four pools have concession stands, but they had not been operating “for a decade or two.”

He also said soda machines have been placed at all four pools. When Schweyer asked whether fruits might be offered as healthier alternatives, the park director said they did offer packaged sliced apples at Cedar Beach, but they did not sell. “I think we ended up giving them away as they neared their expiration date.”