Park Officials Worry Jump in Fees Will Drive Residents Away
Holmes, Erin, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Byline: Erin Holmes Daily Herald Staff Writer
Arlington Heights Park District officials say raising user fees to bring in more money might backfire and leave the park district with fewer users and less overall revenue.
Director of Recreation and Facilities Roger Key said he fears significant, across-the-board price jumps of 25 percent and 50 percent would actually decrease revenue because fewer residents would participate in park programs.
"You could generate more (money), assuming you have the same clientele, but you also might have a loss," Key said.
The park board will have its annual meeting Wednesday where they set park and program fees. Based on Key's predictions, board President Tom Drake said commissioners most likely won't increase all fees at the same rate.
"It was pretty clear no one is willing to go down that path at this time," Drake said.
Instead, each program will be looked at separately. Commissioners will likely opt to raise some prices significantly while boosting others only a bit and leaving still others relatively unchanged.
And fee increases mean different things in different programs.
With fees raised 25 percent, for instance, nine holes of weekday golf at Arlington Lakes Golf Club would cost only $2.63 more. Fees for the softball program, on the other hand, would jump $123.75.
For its across-the-board increase predictions, staff estimated they would lose about 15 percent of participants if fees are raised 25 percent. Fully 40 percent of people would walk if fees are raised 50 percent, they predict.
Park fees and charges currently generate about $5.4 million.
Key suggested an across-the-board increase of 25 percent could drop revenue to $5.1 million. Revenue could plunge to $4 million assuming a 50 percent increase.
Conversely, assuming no loss of clientele, revenue could rise to $6.7 million with a 25 percent increase and $8 million with a 50 percent increase. …