Council, mayor back recreation fee cuts
July 9, 2010
City council members last month expressed a willingness to eliminate unpopular fee increases for after-school and summer programs sponsored by the city's parks and recreation department.
In a memorandum to the council Thursday, Mayor Pam Iorio put herself on that same page. Her 2011 budget, effective Oct. 1, which she will present to the council Aug. 12, would eliminate fee increases imposed last October
for after-school, summer, open swim and senior programs. Some fees remain: a $15 recreation card, which everyone must have to access city recreation facilities, and a $115 fee for non-city residents.
Seniors who enroll in classes taught by city staffers would be charged $1.50 a class. Seniors at Barksdale Senior Center at MacFarlane Park said
they were unfairly charged $2.50 a class. They also asked the city to consider reducing a $115 fee to non-city residents.
Fees for classes taught by private instructors would vary as they always have.
higher fees remain, but this fall, children with a recreation card may enroll free of charge in after-school programs taught by city staffers. Next summer, the cost per child for city-sponsored summer programs would be $70, or $35 for those who qualify for a reduced fee.
There could be waiting lists at some facilities and for some programs based on staff layoffs, said Santiago Corrada, city neighborhood services administrator. He said parks and recreation staff plans to develop a registration and attendance system. "We hope that this addresses the majority of people who have issues."
The city raised fees in October because of a $51 million budget gap. By rolling them back, parks and recreation could lose about $450,000 in revenue, Corrada said.
For weeks, residents have bombarded city officials and council members at meetings, with phone calls and e-mail criticizing fee increases as excessive, especially for families in low-income neighborhoods.
The council is on a two-week hiatus. Chairman Tom Scott said he had not
seen the mayor's memorandum. But, he said, "Council has discussed rolling them back anyway. No doubt she figured it was going to happen."
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