NEW PORT RICHEY — The price to use popular recreation services in New Port Richey is going up.
The City Council voted 3-2 Tuesday night to increase fees for the summer day camp at the New Port Richey Recreation and Aquatic Center along with use of park shelters and Peace Hall.
The council doubled the weekly cost of summer camp to $80 for city residents. People who live outside the city will pay $150, an increase of $100. The new rates will take effect for the 2012 summer camp, according to the city's parks director, Elaine Smith.
The fee for using Peace Hall has been $50 for a half-day and $85 for a full day. It is now $100 and $150, respectively, for city residents. Non-residents will now pay $150 for a half-day and $200 for a full day, up from $70 and $125.
Council members also implemented a fee for the use of picnic shelters in the city's parks — $50 for city residents and $70 for non-residents for all day.
The new rates for the shelters and Peace Hall will take effect immediately.
Smith, who asked for the rate increases, said the summer camp is growing in popularity and the cost of running it is not meeting the demand.
The program this summer is serving more than 100 children, and has a waiting list, she said.
The city had been taking reservations for park shelters but was not charging to use them. And the city spends money for parks workers to clean up after users, Smith said.
Council members Rob Marlowe, Bob Langford, and Ginny Miller voted for the increases, while Mayor Bob Consalvo and Judy DeBella Thomas voted no.
"We've just set them out of sight," DeBella Thomas said of the proposed fees before voting against them.
Marlowe argued that fees to use the aquatic center have been much lower than the market rate for other gyms and recreation centers in the area. Smith told the council the YMCA in Trinity offers a weekly rate for a camp equivalent to New Port Richey's for between $100 and $150.
For a center that is losing money, the rates should be competitive, Marlowe said.
A study on the aquatic center this year found that in 2007, the year it opened, the center made $320,210, but operations cost $789,609. Last year the center pulled in $387,751, but operating costs topped $1.1 million. In 2011, projections are for the center's revenue to be $451,050, while the costs are expected to surpass $1.2 million.
"We're losing boatloads of money," Marlowe said.
Ann Wells, a non-resident, came to the aquatic center Wednesday and said she is glad her kids are of the age that they don't need summer camp. And raising the rates for families with young children is going to hurt, she added.
"Everything's going up," Wells said. "I just don't see how the working family is going to get by with that."