CHICO — Unable to collect revenue from halted programming and hall rentals, the Chico Area Recreation and Park District is looking at ways to cut expenses, including the possible abandonment of Shapiro Pool. It faces a $440,000 deficit in its preliminary 2020-21 budget.On the good news side, however, the CARD office at 545 Vallombrosa Ave. opened to the public Friday, and youth summer camps are on the horizon.

CARD has leased Shapiro Pool from the Chico Unified School District for decades, but over the past few years shut it to the public because of the expensive and public health risk of the old equipment, which it can’t afford to replace. It cost CARD about $11,000 a year in supplies and 300 staff hours, with only one event — a dog splash gathering — all year.

At Thursday’s board virtual meeting, General Manager Ann Willmann asked the board for preference, which was unanimously for “giving it back to the school district.” The matter will come back to the board at the next meeting — June 18 — giving the public a chance to weigh in on the pool, along with the preliminary 2020-21 budget.Because programming and rental fees are the majority revenue source for the special district, without the usual spring recreation selections and halls being closed because of coronavirus, the district is down in revenue. Property tax is the next largest income source, which could also be down.

“We had zero programming in April and May, and afterschool programs bring in about $150,000 a month. There’s expenses there too.

“We’ve definitely had a loss of revenue,” Willmann said Friday.

The board Thursday approved a preliminary budget required by law that shows a roughly $440,000 deficit, but chair Tom Lando said what guides the district will look nothing like the preliminary budget. Willmann noted Friday that CARD needs a balanced budget, and will be looking at a combination of strategies.

“Everything’s on the table,” she said, in reference to pay cuts, fee increases and layoffs.”

The preliminary 2020-21 budget presented Thursday showed total revenue of $8,890,128 — down about $34,000 from the previous year. It also shows operating expenses at $9,329,919, with a projected net income loss of $444,291.

It’s hard to guess the revenue and expenditures, said Willmann, because changes occur daily. Resources like parks and activities fields have to be kept up, even though unused. Some part-time staff has been brought back to help with that, but partial staff related to programming have been let go. Some maintenance projects are being delayed.

The sooner the county re-opening occurs, the sooner revenue from programs and facility rentals can come to CARD. But the reopening schedule is still fluid, so predictions are difficult.

Willmann told the board in a written statement that, “The preliminary budget includes a conservative estimate and will require difficult decisions that will affect program offerings and operations in the future.”

Willmann told the board that online registration was ready once the county health officials gave the go-ahead to reopen, and the traditional youth summer camps were on tap. In addition, pickleball courts and the Humboldt Skate Park are operating, and bathrooms at CARD parks were open.

“The current phased reopening will affect classes, youth and adult sport leagues, aquatics, senior programming and special events,” she wrote in her budget report.

With large money-making gatherings — like large weddings or parties — not likely in the immediate future, CARD plans a limited reopening of rental halls, along with rentals of picnic areas and sports field once the county signals.

However, the district will move forward with Chico Rotary sponsored Centennial Park on Ceres Avenue, estimated at $1.5 million. CARD plans to tap the city pool of park-development fees to cover development, but the project is also financially supported by the Rotary club in honor of its 100th year.

Her budget report indicated the district has a restricted reserve of $1.2 million for emergency operation, and Willmann encouraged that amount to be increased to $1,800,000 over time.

A public hearing on the budget, which can be seen online or in the CARD office, is planned for June 18, with final adoption of the budget on July 16.