Parks and Recreation to consider fee increase
By RICHARD BURGESS
October 17, 2012
LAFAYETTE — The city’s Parks and Recreation Department is seeking fee increases for facility rentals and athletic programs that could bring in an extra $180,000 a year to help close a budget gap.
The City-Parish Council is set to vote Oct. 16 on the proposal, which comes as city-parish officials also are considering asking Lafayette voters in to increase the recreation property tax.
Parks and Recreation Director Gerald Boudreaux said his department has to either generate more revenue or cut back on services.
“Without additional increases, we would have to look at curtailing (programs) or reducing the scope and the size,” Boudreaux said. “These are modest increases, and it’s needed to help us stay afloat.”
Proposed fee increases for the department’s youth athletic programs range from $50 to $75 per team, bringing total fees to $150 to $200 per team, depending on the sport and age group.
The biggest changes are in the proposed fees for rentals of parks and recreation facilities.
The fee for some high schools, semi-pro teams and other groups that use the newly renovated Clark Field stadium would rise from $750 to $1,200.
The cost of Sunday rentals of recreation center gyms for tournaments, parties, weddings and other events would rise to $1,625 for up to six hours.
Sunday rentals now range from $550 to $750, but Boudreaux said those fees do not come close to covering the cost of employee overtime to work Sunday.
City-parish officials are considering asking voters in April to approve an increase in the property tax that funds the Parks and Recreation Department.
Boudreaux said his department relies on a subsidy from other areas of the budget — about $3 million — because revenue from the existing recreation tax has not kept pace with the growth of recreation facilities.
The recreation property tax is now 1.92 mills.
Boudreaux said the amount of the proposed increase is still under discussion.
“We are exploring what size (tax) we are looking at to be self-sufficient,” he said.
Any tax proposal would need approval by the City-Parish Council by the end of November to be placed on the April ballot.
The lack of recreation revenue led to cuts in next year’s recreation budget, which dropped from $13.6 million to $11.8 million.
Boudreaux said the department plans to reduce the days and hours of operation for the city’s 10 recreation centers to save on utilities and staffing expenses.
Boudreaux said the lean budget for next year already assumes the council will approve the fee increases that are up for a vote Oct. 16.
He said it has been 10 years since the fees for facility rentals and athletic programs were adjusted.
“We’ve pretty much been able to keep them status quo,” Boudreaux said.
The talk of Lafayette’s recreation budget woes comes after residents in the smaller cities of Broussard and Youngsville approved new sales taxes to fund recreation projects in those cities — a half-cent tax in Broussard and a 1-cent tax in Youngsville.