Park fees to increase, but pool rates treading water for now

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN

BG Independent News

 

Park fees will likely increase next year – but the city’s park and recreation board agreed Tuesday to not dive into rate hikes at the pool just yet.

The board voted to raise rates for several park programs and facility usage by 3 percent. Excluded were programs that are already at the top that the market with bear. There will be no increase to membership fees at the community center, and a lower non-profit rental rate is being introduced.

The proposed rate increases will be reviewed and acted on by City Council in October.

Also on the list for proposed fee hikes were daily and season pool passes. But park board chairman Jeff Crawford asked that the proposed increases at the pool be studied further. He spoke about his wife’s experience teaching at Crim Elementary School, where a portion of the student body is lower income. Crawford said he would like to wait and see the summer statistics at the pool to see if it’s necessary to raise fees for kids using the facility.

Kristin Otley, director of the parks and recreation department, said families can get discounted passes.

“I get that, but the parents don’t generally reach out for that,” Crawford said.

Board member Jodi Anderson echoed that concern.

Otley said that operating the pool is expensive. “Our expenses go up every year,” she said. The total revenues and expenses for this past summer aren’t available yet. The year was a good one for the pool – with attendance up by nearly 7,000. Labor Day weekend alone saw attendance of 1,598 at the pool. But those good years are needed to cover for bad years, Otley reminded.

“I get what you’re saying,” Crawford said. However, he sees it from a different perspective, he explained. “If we’ve done well, we don’t need to raise them.”

Crawford asked that while the other fee increases be passed on to City Council for approval, that the pool rates remain unchanged until after the board sees the numbers for this past summer.

“I would feel more comfortable acting on this,” after viewing that information, he said. The board agreed.

Recommendations call for a 3 percent increase in family pool passes, raising them by $4.50. The daily fee increase would be 25 cents. The rates were last raised in 2017.

The proposed pool fees for daily admission are:

  • $6.25 for adult residents; $7.25 for non-residents.
  • $4 for child residents; $5 for non-residents.
  • $5.75 for youth residents; $6.75 for non-residents.

Annual fees proposed for pool passes are:

  • $155 for resident families; $191 for non-residents.
  • $108 for resident adults; $129 for non-residents.
  • $98 for senior residents; $118 for non-residents.
  • $88 for student residents; $98 for non-residents.

Board member Karen Rippey said when she took visiting family members to the pool this summer they commented on the high daily pass cost.

Otley said the Bowling Green pool gets several users from outside the city because its rates are lower than many other area pools. A day pass for Maumee’s pool, for example, is $8.

“We have people coming from all over,” Otley said.

Mayor Dick Edwards thanked the board for delaying a decision on the pool rates until numbers for the past season are available.

“There’s a huge part of me that appreciates your sensitivity” to children whose families can’t afford pool fees, he said.

City Council member Sandy Rowland agreed.

“It’s about doing the right thing,” she said.

Following is a summary of 2019 fee recommendations that will be presented to City Council in October:

  • Programs and events: 3 percent increase, with an average $2 increase, last raised in 2016. This will not include events that are already priced at top of what people will pay, including Frostbite Fun Run, Adult Sand Volleyball and Beach Bum Sand Volleyball Tournament.
  • Facilities and shelters: 3 percent increase, with an average of $5 for buildings and $2 for shelters. These were last raised in 2015. This will not include rental of athletic facilities.
  • Community center passes and daily fee: No increase due to current market in Bowling Green.
  • MindBody Fitness Passes: 3 percent increase, which will raise one-month pass by $1.32, three-month pass by $3.51, and year-pass by $11.88.
  • Support program building use fee: Increase from $35 to $50 to cover costs.
  • Support program building use fee with repeat (no set up or staff needed to let in): Increase from $20 to $25.
  • Support program shelter use fee: $15 to $20.
  • New rate for BG community non-profit groups: 50 percent discount off rental rate.
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