March 4, 2009 in City

Spokane County to boost park fees

Thomas Clouse Staff writer
 

Kids will have to fork over more money to swim at Spokane County pools, and families will pay more to hold events in county parks, according to changes adopted Tuesday.

The increases, for the most part, will be borne by the specific groups who use the county facilities. For instance, the cost of camping at Liberty Lake Camp Ground won’t go up. But family functions at Camp Caro will cost an extra $50 per group, or $200 per event.

Parks Director Doug Chase said he understands that the downturn in the economy limits what residents can do, but he said the county is forced to raise fees to cover the higher costs of natural gas and electricity.

“I think more than ever people are taking the time to call around and price things,” Chase said. “They will find we are an amazing value even with the higher fees. These, realistically, are minor adjustments.”

For example, the costs at the North Side and South Side aquatic facilities will go from $5 for adults and kids, ages 6 and older, to $6. But Chase explained that last year the county was charging sales tax on the $5 so the increase actually represents about 48 cents per person.

Commissioner Bonnie Mager was traveling Tuesday and not at the hearing. Commissioner Todd Mielke said the county has to make park activities self sustaining.

“With swim lessons, where there is direct benefit to an individual or a small group, it means making adjustments from time to time,” he said.

Park shelters are another example of the fee increases.

“Typically, people rent them for family reunions,” Mielke said. “Should the cost be borne by those who use it or by the entire public?”

Commissioner Mark Richard, who voted for the increases along with Mielke, said the county has three choices.

“We can charge the users a small increase, we can charge all taxpayers, or we can go in the red and eventually close the facilities,” Richard said. “Those last two are not good options.”

Thomas Clouse can be reached at (509) 459-5495 or tomc@spokesman.com.


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