The island’s principal tourism group on Tuesday approved a $32 million budget for the coming fiscal year.
The Galveston Park Board of Trustees passed the budget 6-0 with little disagreement on the financial plan. Trustees Rocky Sullivan and John Zendt were absent.
The budget is 20 percent higher than the 2017 budget, which was $26.3 million. The park board, which maintains several island beaches and parks, is expecting its biggest spike in spending with a planned $7.78 million in grant expenditures.
The park board budgeted $1.55 million in grant spending for a project to create nature trails at East End Lagoon and another $6.23 million to maintain replenished beaches between 10th and 61st streets, according to the budget.
The vote stipulated that the park board will wait until it has an emergency reserve policy before spending money from settlements resulting from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2011, however. Money for the East End Lagoon project is expected to come from a grant funded by the settlements, park board officials said.
An emergency reserve policy should be in place by the end of the calendar year, Executive Director Kelly de Schaun said. Other future projects, such as a new pavilion at Stewart Beach, are expected to pull from Deepwater Horizon-related grants.
The park board has roughly $9.1 million in reserves, or enough to cover three months of operating expenses, de Schaun said.
“There’s an incentive for staff,” de Schaun said. “I want a pavilion at Stewart Beach, so I will make sure you have a reserve policy.”
Park board officials kept the revenue projection from hotel occupancy taxes for the coming year the same as in 2017.
The park board didn’t receive as much money from hotel occupancy taxes this year as anticipated. The group budgeted a $12 million revenue from the funds, but is estimated to have received $10.6 million by the end of September, according to budget documents.
Only Trustee and Councilman Craig Brown, of District 2, voiced any concern about hotel occupancy taxes.
“I’m supportive of the budget and I thank everybody that’s spent so many man hours,” Brown said. “I still think we’re overestimating. That’s just me.”