Recreation district sizes up fee hikes |

Recreation district sizes up fee hikes

Geraldine Haldner

It doesn’t have to be much – district board members have not specified how much they would like to collect from higher fees next year – but every dollar counts as the district heads into a financially challenging budget season.

“Some fees haven’t been raised in five years,” said district board member Julie Hansen last week. “Any little bit would help.”

The recreation district, following a controversial $3.5 million renovation of Dobson Ice Arena, is looking to cover as much as $400,000 in additional expenses, including $270,000 in annual debt payments on the arena and about $130,000 in annual installation cost for the temporary ice rink on the driving range at the Vail Golf Course.

A moderate fee hike of $5 and $10 for groups using the two ice rinks was approved in July and is expected to bring in an additional $7,000 to $10,000 in 2003.

Additionally, the district’s managers plan to add as many as 20 additional events to the arena’s usual 30 per year schedule for an extra $70,000 per year.

Recreation District Director Piet Pieters said that the board members have not asked for a specific amount to be raised through fees. “They have left that open,” he said.

However, department heads from the nature center, youth services, adult sports and golf club have been asked to trim budgets and suggest reasonable fee increases wherever possible.

While some fee increases – like an additional $10 for guided adult hikes may not cause a stir – other fee increases will have to be considered from every angle, including the downvalley perspective and vantage point of parents raising children in a high-cost area, officials said.

“A day at Camp Vail for $30 is a pretty good deal,” said Youth Services Director Diane Johnson. “That’s basically $3 an hour, but with three kids it’s a bit different.”

“With WECMRD (Western Eagle County Metropolitan Recreation District) taking over Berry Creek 5th, the competition is starting to expand,” said Mike Ortiz, the district’s director of adult sports, in reference to increased ball field competition as close as Edwards.

So far, department supervisors have proposed various small increases, including a $4 and $5 increase for Camp Vail to $60 per day for out-of-district participants and $39 for district taxpayers; and a $5 increase for mountain bike and running races, which in 2002 cost between $15 and $30 for day-of registration.

Additionally, league sports may become costlier with a proposed increase from $13 to $20 per hour for the athletic field at Ford Park. District board members said they want to take a closer look at facility rental fees at upcoming meetings.

Board President Nino Licciardi asked Ortiz to come back with numbers on what kind of fees adult soccer and rugby players pay per individual, based on an entire season.

When it comes to golf going for more green on the greens, that’s a little trickier. District board members suggested that the 10-punch card be looked at for a possible increase. The punch card is available for $350 for district residents and $450 for out-of-district golf players.

Additionally, Licciardi asked that the board consider putting a round limit on the $800 season pass, which is available only to district residents.

“Couldn’t we say it has a 40-round cap and every round after that is a $20 fee,” he asked during a board meeting last week. “Just a thought.”

District board members and department directors will continue to review fee changes. District users have a chance to review fees and make comments at the district’s regular board meetings Sept. 10 and 24 as well as Oct. 8 – when the board hopes to approve recreation program fees for 2003. The recreation district board meets in the council chambers at the Vail Municipal Building at 5 p.m. every second and fourth Tuesday.

The board plans to approve its final budget for 2003 on Dec. 10.

Geraldine Haldner can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 602, or at

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