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Wednesday, March 17, 2004

News

Council debates
broad fee hikes

Recreation, planning charges under review


By GREGORY FOLEY
Express Staff Writer

Fees for numerous public services fulfilled by the city of Ketchum stand to go up sharply this spring.

Ketchum City Council members Monday, March 15, reviewed proposals to increase fees for services provided by the city Parks Department and Planning Department.

The proposals were issued by Parks and Recreation Director Kirk Mason and Planning Director Harold Moniz, after Mayor Ed Simon and the City Council determined all city department heads should develop plans to increase revenues by updating their fees.

Last month, Mason proposed a set of fee increases for city recreation programs and permits for the exclusive use of city park facilities.

For city recreation programs, Mason called for a sliding-scale fee structure that would increase by approximately $15 the cost for enrolling one child in three or more programs.

As part of the proposal, scholarships would remain available.

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, Ketchum residents would pay $30 per event and nonresidents would pay $60 per event.

The Parks Department fee increases would raise approximately $4,000 in the first year they are implemented. The department currently brings in approximately $40,000 per year in fees.

After a brief public hearing Monday on the proposed recreation fee increases, council members delayed taking action, in part because the appropriate paperwork to approve the increases had not been submitted.

Councilwoman Terry Tracy, the former director of the Parks Department, objected to the increases, just as she did during two previous reviews of the plan.

"I still think that were going down the wrong road and we should be looking at other ways to raise revenue," Tracy said.

No members of the public objected to the fee increases.

Council members decided to continue on April 5 their review of all Parks Department fee increases.

Council members also discussed Monday a broad set of fee increases for city planning services.

Moniz said his department has not raised its fees since 1996. The department brought in $51,000 in fee revenues in 2003.

The increases generally range from 25 to 30 percent for individual services.

Under the proposal, the fee for an applicant to appeal a planning decision to the City Council would increase from $75 to $500a figure that will likely be reduced.

Councilman Randy Hall said the city should closely consider the impacts of increasing development application fees.

"We might want to look at whether we discourage or encourage development, based on how much empty space we have," Hall said.

The council has not yet scheduled a public hearing on the proposed planning fee increases.


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The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.





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