Fun will come at a higher price in Pasco

NEW PORT RICHEY — County commissioners on Tuesday approved a raft of fee increases for 58 recreation facility and program fees.

Commission Chairman Ted Schrader also asked county staff to create a year-round pass for residents who launch boats or park trailers at the Anclote River Park, as an alternative to a pay-per-entry machine. The park's fees used to be capped at $20 a month, but will now go up to $5 a day.

The rest of the fees, which have been unchanged for 15 years, affect summer camps, youth and adult athletic leagues, swimming pools, picnic shelters and campsites, and sports fields and courts. The new rates will go into effect within 45 days, County Administrator John Gallagher said.

Officials argue the fee hikes shift the burden for these services to those who actually use the facilities.

The increases would generate $400,000 in revenue, partially patching a $16-million loss in county property taxes from a voter referendum passed in January.

Even with the extra cash, there may be more staff cuts in store.

"Do you think this would help you survive Amendment 1?" Commissioner Michael Cox asked Rick Buckman, the county's recreation director.

"No," Buckman said. "Really, this was pre-Amendment 1. This was to update our schedule. It won't make a profit."

Buckman called the hikes a "small piece of puzzle" in the county's efforts to close the budget gap.

Schrader suggested having nonresidents pay a higher rate at the Anclote River Park. Under Tuesday's proposal, there are different charges for residents and nonresidents only at the county's three gymnasiums. Residents pay $5 for an annual photo identification card to use at the gym. Nonresidents pay $15.

Cox suggested having people pay these fees online as much as possible.

"Absolutely," Buckman said. "We're working on it. We've been talking about that for two years."

In other business, the commission agreed to take $45,000 of gas tax revenue to extend a contract for consulting services by the lobbyist firm of Tew Cardenas. County staff limited the scope of the consultant's work to transportation issues only. Commissioner Pat Mulieri balked at the cost, but was the sole dissent.

Chuin-Wei Yap can be reached at cyap@sptimes.com or (813)

909-4613.

>>fast facts

County recreation fees rise

Here are some of the fee increases approved Tuesday for county recreation facilities and programs:

• Daily admission to a swimming pool will go up from $1.75 a day to $3 a day for adults. Swimming lessons will cost $35 a session instead of the current $20.

• Camping will cost $30 a night for a large cabin instead of $15 a night now. Camping in a tent will cost $10 a night instead of $5.

• Renting a picnic shelter will go up from $20 to $25 (or $30 for one with electrical outlets).

• An adult softball team will pay $375 to register, up from $300. Adult basketball teams will pay $300, up from $250. There will be variety of extra fees for field services such as raking, re-striping and lighting.

• The cost of registration in a basketball youth league will go from $25 a player to $35 a player. Registration in youth flag football will go from $30 to $35 a player, and in youth volleyball from $15 to $25 a player.

• Fees for summer day camps will go up, too, from $30 a week to $50 a week ($60 if it includes a field trip).

Source: Pasco County Parks and Recreation Department

Fun will come at a higher price in Pasco 03/25/08 [Last modified: Thursday, March 27, 2008 3:13pm]

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