CLEARWATER — Because of tight budgets, in recent years Clearwater has started charging higher fees for out-of-towners who want to use its recreation facilities.
People from Safety Harbor or Largo or Dunedin have been paying more to swim at the Long Center, skateboard at Ross Norton Recreation Complex, or take classes for senior citizens at the Aging Well Center.
Now Clearwater is rolling back those fees a bit.
Beginning Wednesday, the city will reduce the rates that it charges nonresidents for basic recreation cards and more advanced "play passes."
Recreation cardholders get discounts on city-sponsored programs, and are eligible for early registration for youth camps and other activities.
The cost of a rec card for out-of-towners will be reduced from $180 to $150 for individuals, and from $450 to $375 for families. (For Clearwater residents, the cost is only $7 per person and $35 per family, because their taxes already support these programs.)
People who frequently use Clearwater's recreation centers have the option of buying what the city calls a "play pass," which offers more benefits. Using fitness centers and swimming pools is free with a play pass, along with things like the city's skate park and visits to Moccasin Lake Nature Park.
The cost of a play pass for nonresidents will be reduced from $262.50 to $232.50 for youths and seniors; from $290 to $260 for adults; and from $725 to $650 for families. (Clearwater residents pay $82.50 for youths and seniors, $110 per adult and $275 per family.)
"With a play pass, you can go and work out in any of the facilities for a year. At private fitness centers, you have to pay $20 to $60 a month," said city spokeswoman Joelle Castelli. "When you look at it that way, it's a bargain."
Why is the city reducing the fees? It's due to technical reasons.
Clearwater uses a particular formula to set its recreation fees for nonresidents. Part of the formula involves the net costs of providing recreation services, and that dropped over the past year. The City Council approved this formula so that Parks And Recreation staffers wouldn't have to keep coming back to the council to change the fees every year.
Mike Brassfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 445-4160.