Friday, November 20, 2015

City Council to consider Recreation Fee increases at Monday session

A proposal to increase recreation
fees in the city is to be discussed
at Monday's Council Session
The City of Prince Rupert has provided a heads up today for residents on items related to the Recreation Centre.

Putting out a media release that notes that a number of aspects related to proposed recreation fee increases and a change in the structure of fee collection, will be among the topics for discussion at Monday's City Council session.

For the most part, the media release focused on the positive side to the plan which will see a 25 per cent reduction for Seniors, as well as to continue to provide access to Low income families through the Recreation Access program, which features discounts and free admissions as part of the plan.

The new structure creates a single user fee which will see Seniors, youth and post secondary students combined into one rate category, a proposed shift that will result a reduction of fees for seniors.

As for the new costs, if approved by Council and implemented, the overall fees for recreation centre users will increase by five per cent  each year beginning July 1st of 2016. Covering a five year period ending in December of 2020, making for a total increase of 25 percent over the five years.

The change means a 61 cent increase for the drop-in rates using the new amalgamated plan in place for seniors/youth/students, while the fees for adults using the Recreation facility will increase by $1.49 carrying through to 2020.

The changes in the fee structure is described by the City as part of an overall push by the Recreation Department to increase financial responsibility, and makes for an initiative that will set aside five percent of revenues toward a fund for future capital improvements.

“The changes are intended to help us continue to improve our services and facilities, while having the smallest possible impact on the community – especially lower income residents and seniors,” -- Willa Thorpe, Director of Recreation and Community Service for the City of Prince Rupert on the plan for an increase to user fees at city recreation facilities.

According to notes included in the media release, the City currently has 75 per cent of the Recreation Budget funded by Prince Rupert taxpayers, the proposed initiative is designed to align the approach to  way that the city assess recreation rates to resemble that found in other communities of similar size.

More background on the proposed increases can be found here.

The plan to increase recreation fees comes following a year of significant increases in spending by the city covering a range of areas, from boosting the salary of the Mayor and increased staffing at various civic departments to an ambitious plan to address infrastructure issues in the city.

The plan to increase Recreation fees also follows the 2 per cent increase to Property taxes outlined in May of this year.  As part of the discussion on property taxes of earlier this year, it was noted at that time that the City had no desire to tap into the Legacy Fund for any budget shortfalls, a theme which it would seem is still the thinking when it comes to issues such as Recreation fees.

Of note for the public and not mentioned in the media release, is that if the city follows the usual pattern, Monday's council session should also include a Committee of the Whole session. Something which normally includes an opportunity for the public to comment on any item that might be of concern for them.

Should anyone be looking for more information on what the City's plans are towards Recreation fees and their ambitions for the future, that might be a good opportunity to ask some questions.

More background on items related to the City of Prince Rupert can be found on our archive page.

Update: The full scope of the proposed changes to the recreation fees for use of Recreation Facilities in Prince Rupert (including those fields under City control) can be reviewed from a Report provided for the Agenda of Monday's Council session (see here starting from page 104)

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