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Friday — February 20, 2004


Council eyes
recreation fees hike

Express Staff Writer

Ketchum City Council members Tuesday, Feb. 17, deferred action on a proposal to raise fees for city recreation programs and special use of city parks.

Kirk Mason, director of the Ketchum Parks Department, issued the proposal after being asked by city officials to assess ways for the department to increase revenues, in large part to offset escalating costs.

Mason told council members that the department’s fees were matched against those of comparable entities and were ultimately determined to be below the average. At the same time, he said, some facilities are "deteriorating" and the city’s playing fields need "rejuvenating."

Mason proposed that the city increase fees for its wide range of recreational programs, as well as for exclusive use of city parks for special events.

For recreation programs, Mason proposed a sliding-scale fee structure that assesses higher fees for the first program a child enrolls in and lowers fees for additional programs.

For the first child in a family to enter his or her first program, the proposed cost would be $40, decreasing to $25 for the fourth, fifth and sixth programs entered.

Mason noted that "the increase in cost will be approximately $15 per child who enrolls in three or more programs."

Mason said the increases could help the department maintain the quality of the programs and maintain qualified summer staff.

"By increasing fees, I feel we may also eliminate a long-standing problem of parents enrolling their kids in programs as a ‘back-up plan,’ then not attending," Mason noted to the council.

As part of the proposal, scholarships would be made available and no children would be turned away from participating in organized recreation, Mason said.

In the plan to increase park use fees, citizens would maintain their ability to freely visit city parks but would be asked to pay a fee to reserve a park facility for their exclusive use. Under the proposal, residents would pay $30 per event and nonresidents would pay $60 per event.

Councilwoman Terry Tracy, the former director of the Parks Department, objected to some elements of the proposal.

"I don’t want to nickel and dime every resident here," she said. "Why can’t they have a free wedding or a free picnic? You’ve got to give them something."

Councilman Baird Gourlay faced off with Tracy on the matter, stating that he and many of his constituents believe the services offered by the Parks Department are a bargain.

Council members will be asked to make a decision on the proposal at their March 1 meeting.


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