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Parks Commission Study Session Minutes

Minutes
Monday, December 10, 2007

City of Ashland

PARKS AND RECREATION COMMISSION

 

STUDY SESSION
MINUTES

 

December 10, 2007

 

ATTENDANCE

Present:            Commissioners Eggers, Lewis, Noraas, Rosenthal; Director Robertson; Superintendent Teige

Absent:             Commissioner Gardiner; City Council Liaison Navickas; Superintendent Gies

CALL TO ORDER

Eggers called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. at the Parks office, 340 S. Pioneer.

DISCUSSION ON RECREATIONAL FEES, CHARGES, AND POLICIES

Robertson reminded the commission of their previous work related to adjustments of fees and charges. In light of the unanticipated $300,000 reduction in projected taxes for FY ‘07-’08 as well as the impending loss of YAL funds in FY ‘08-‘09 [at the conclusion of the four-year levy], he stressed the importance of “pricing right” fees and charges for recreational programs and facilities.

Teige said she planned to speak about revenues and expenditures associated with the Darex Family Ice Rink, Daniel Meyer Pool, North Mountain Park Nature Center, Ashland Senior Center, adult and youth recreation programs, and the Garfield Park summer program.

Darex Family Ice Rink

Teige talked about revenues and expenditures related to ice rink programs, including open skate, hockey, groups and tournaments, skate lessons, concessions, punch cards, adult recreational skate, and skate rentals. She reported that revenues for winter ‘06-‘07 totaled $51,685.50 while expenditures for part-time staff, full-time administrative and maintenance staff, equipment and supplies totaled $99,426, bringing the subsidy to $47,740.50, with an overall recovery rate of 52%.

Daniel Meyer Pool

Teige talked about revenues and expenditures related to pool programs, including swim lessons, open swim, lap swim, aerobics, concessions, pool rentals, and water polo. She reported that revenues for FY ‘06-‘07 totaled $37,208.55 while expenditures for part-time staff, full-time maintenance staff, pool equipment and supplies totaled $109,142, bringing the subsidy to $71,933.45, with an overall recovery rate of 34%.

North Mountain Park Nature Center

Teige talked about revenues and expenditures related to programs offered at the North Mountain Park Nature Center, including community classes and events, school programs, donations, interpretations and exhibits, service learning, and volunteers. She reported that revenues for FY ‘06-‘07 were $47,007.15 while expenditures for full- and part-time staff, instructors, supplies, and other expenses were $305,982.09, bringing the subsidy to $258,974.94, with an overall recovery rate of 15%.

Ashland Senior Center

Teige reported that grants from RVCOG and Soroptimist International of Ashland generated $10,495 for the Ashland Senior Center in FY ‘06-‘07, while expenditures for full- and part-time staff, materials and supplies, utilities, phones, and expenses totaled $122,018, bringing the overall subsidy to $111,523, with an 8% recovery rate.

Adult Recreation Programs

Teige stated that revenues generated by adult recreation programs such as dance activities, art and design classes, language and sports programs, and fitness classes totaled $63,181 while expenses related to instructors, full- and part-time staff, materials and supplies were $68,683, bringing the subsidy to $5,502, with a 92% recovery rate.

Youth Recreation Programs

Teige reported that revenues for youth recreation programs, including water and sports activities, field trips, and art activities, totaled $17,605, while expenses for instructors, full- and part-time staff, materials and supplies, the kayaking/rafting contract, and the track program totaled $55,109, bringing the subsidy to $37,504, indicating a 32% recovery rate.

Summer Park Program (Garfield Park)

Teige reported that no revenues were generated in FY ‘06-‘07 related to the free summer park program while expenses for part-time staff, materials, supplies, and fuel totaled $7,000, showing a recovery rate of 0%.

Teige said the average recovery rate for all programs was 33%.

Public Input

Keith Swink, 1655 Peachey Road, President of Ashland Water Polo, thanked staff and commissioners for their help with the summer ‘07 water polo program. He asked for suggestions about sustaining aquatics programs within the community and talked about their benefits. He asked the commission to consider speaking with SOU about expanded community opportunities for their pool and requested future assistance from the commission for the water polo team, should the need arise.

Discussion Among Commissioners

Eggers asked about overall revenues and expenditures for FY ‘06-‘07 programs and Teige said revenues were $227,182.20 while expenditures totaled $767,360.09. Teige asked the commission if they preferred to raise fees gradually each year or in larger increments over a shorter period of time. She suggested targeting a 40% recovery rate in FY ‘08-‘09.

When asked about the pool’s usage level in the ’07 season, Teige reported that it was used throughout both the days and nights, prohibiting additional program offerings.

Rosenthal asked Teige about promotional costs, including expenses associated with the printing and mailing of the seasonal recreation guide, and Teige reported that each issue cost $6,000, not including staff time. Eggers suggested listing, on a separate sheet, additional costs associated with programs [not included in previous calculations], including such items as program guide costs and staff time.

Robertson expressed his desire to determine an overall recovery rate for recreation programs for FY ’08-’09 and then meet with the school superintendent and other community groups to determine a collaborative funding mechanism for the continuing operation of programs.

Kari Gies of the North Mountain Park Nature Center said Parks paid $29 per child for school outreach programs while the school district paid $4 per child. She said Nature Center staff solicited and collected surveys from teachers over a period of ten years and results indicated the high quality of Nature Center programs. She said priority for program space was given to Ashland students, who participated free of charge, with any remaining spaces filled by students from surrounding cities, who were required to pay for the programs.

Noraas said her understanding about Nature Center school programs was that the costs were to have been shared between Parks and Schools, but Parks paid more than its share. Robertson said the Parks Department had undervalued its services over a number of years and community members learned to expect low or no fees for programs. He said one option could be the reduction of programs and services, which might result in the reduction of personnel. Rosenthal indicated that the culture of entitlement in Ashland was not in line with the current funding reality.

Rosenthal talked about potential public / private sponsorships to increase funding for programs. As an example, he said companies could advertise in the recreation program guide, providing partial funding for programs using non-tax dollars and freeing up funds for other programs.

Robertson said local opportunities existed for corporate sponsorships but the commission had been reluctant in the past to place corporate labels on fields and recreational supplies. Eggers voiced a lack of support for placing commercial labels within the parks system.

Other potential fundraising suggestions included allowing corporate sponsorship of an event at the rink; soliciting another namesake for the rink [since the Darex family expressed willingness to relinquish their name, should another sponsor be found]; making the Nature Center and Senior Center fee-based facilities requiring membership dues or “supporter cards”; charging higher fees for field usage and tournaments; and asking the Ashland Parks Foundation for increased funding for recreation program scholarships.

Commissioners directed Robertson to speak with the school district and asked Teige to propose funding increases, targeted requests for donations, and potential partnerships and advertising opportunities. Staff was asked to consider ways to “get the message out” regarding the funding shortages in the upcoming fiscal year. Suggestions including utilizing the recreation program guide and Parks Department Web site as well as releasing a series of press releases to local media.

Teige said the topic would be discussed again at the regular meeting on January 28, 2008.

Robertson distributed evaluation materials in preparation for his performance review on December 17. Commissioners discussed ways to improve the evaluation form and talked about forming a subcommittee to create a better vehicle for the process. Rosenthal and Noraas volunteered to serve on the subcommittee. Teige offered to send an email to ORPA soliciting evaluation forms from other agencies within the state.

ADJOURNMENT – By consensus, with no further business, Eggers adjourned the meeting at 8:42 p.m.

Respectfully submitted, Susan Dyssegard, Ashland Parks and Recreation

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