Follow the money
As we're engaging folks about the Sports Complex Improvement Project, one issue we're addressing frequently is the increased cost the City will charge users so we can recover more of our maintenance expenses.
First off, it's important to note we have charged very little for field use. Leagues pay us for the marble dust used to stripe the fields and $18 an hour for electricity when the lights are on. That's it.
We've got a web page up now that explains in more detail the rationale behind the 25 percent cost recovery target (as well as the maintenance and management proposals). For those of you unfamiliar with the 10 Year Plan process, be sure to follow the links provided for a better understanding of that comprehensive financial planning effort. If you're wondering what other cities and organizations charge compared to what we're proposing, here's a chart.
I think the one comment we hear most frequently is, "What do we get for the increased fees?" Here's how Cory Styron, assistant parks and recreation director, answers the question: "First, you'll receive a higher standard of maintenance. We are renovating the fields and this will require a higher maintenance standard than currently provided to ensure long-term playability. You will have a significantly improved playing surface and spectator area from the proposed improvements."
From our perspective, we also have to consider the non-users of the facility. They will be subsidizing less of the on-going costs for maintenance. Note: We'll be asking all users of Old Settlers Park sports facilities - not just baseball fields - to begin paying more.
If the next two paragraphs sound familiar, it's because they are lifted directly from my response to comments on the first post.
The physical improvements to the fields will be paid for by all property taxpayers, assuming the City Council authorizes the issuance of the $12.6 million in Certificates of Obligation (COs) for the project on July 12, as expected. The COs are paid back through property taxes.
Bottom line, the entire community is paying for the physical improvements to Old Settlers Park. We believe that providing space for children to play organized sports is a valuable and important role for local government. We are asking that users of those facilities begin to pay more for the ongoing costs the City incurs to maintain them. How much of the cost recovery comes from recreational league play, select league play and tournament play is something we're asking for input on.
So, what are your thoughts on how much of the cost recovery should be borne by recreational league play vs. select play vs. tournament play (league and out-of-town)? And what about resident vs. non-residents? Should leagues charge more for non-residents? Let us know what you think.