City to raise park, rec fees
Waupaca covering costs for new software
By Angie Landsverk
The cost to rent a park shelter and participate in some park and recreation programs will increase in 2016.
The fees for youth programs, adult volleyball, swim lessons, men’s softball, adult kickball and senior center membership will all increase next year.
Earlier this month, the Waupaca Common Council voted 8-2 in favor of increasing some fees in the city department.
Steve Hackett and Chuck Whitman voted against it.
Hackett said he opposed increasing fees, because city residents already pay money as part of their property taxes to support the city’s Parks and Recreation Department budget.
“Non-residents don’t pay any taxes,” he said in regard to Waupaca’s Parks and Recreation Department’s budget.
Before the council voted, Parks and Recreation Director Aaron Jenson explained the reason why the increases were proposed.
For more than 18 months, his department investigated recreation software systems to better manage the department’s rentals, registrations, team management, scheduling and more.
Their recommendation to the council was to go with Activenet, a Dallas-based company with 39 years of experience in the Parks and Recreation industry.
The council voted 10-0 to do so.
Its vote included no cost for the training and implementation of the software, a one-time fee of $3,050 for hardware costs and a 6.5 percent fee being charged on every transaction.
The department had the option of incurring those transaction fees or passing those fees onto the users.
It recommended passing the 6.5 percent transaction fees on to the users to bring in the additional revenue needed to cover the annual cost of the software.
Based on the department’s 2014 revenues at 6.5 percent, the department would have to adjust fees to cover a $13,580 annual cost, Jenson said.
Area communities already using the software include New London, Menasha, Appleton, Little Chute and De Pere. Jenson said most pass on that transaction fee to the users.
“Since I’ve been here in 2011, we haven’t changed the fees,” Jenson told the council.
He said the park and rec departments he talked to in other communities either increase fees every year or every other year.
Waupaca’s Park and Rec staff chose specific fees to change and not change based on comparing them to the same fees in similar sized communities.
The city’s park rental fees are increasing more than 6.5 percent, because the current fees are low in comparison to other communities and the demand and usage has always been high.
That fee will go from $50 to $60 for residents and from $70 to $80 for non-residents.
Youth program fees will increase $3 and go from $35 to $38 for residents and from $95 to $98 for non-residents.
The adult volleyball fees for men will change from $150 to $160. For women, they will go from $250 to $275, and for coed, they will change from $50 to $54.
Swim lessons will be $22. This year, they were $20 for all participants as part of Waupaca’s summer school program.
The fee for men’s softball will increase to $525 from its current rate of $500.
Adult kickball will go from $125 to $150.
The cost of a senior center membership for residents will $15 compared to its current cost of $10. Non-residents will play $20 compared to the the present fee of $15.
Jenson said his department will continue to work with families who do not feel comfortable paying certain amounts for programs.
“We always want youth to be able to participate in programs,” he said.
He said using the new software will allow scheduling to take place in real time and to centralize emails to umpires and coaches.
It will also allow them to generate reports showing how much staffing is needed.
Jenson also told the council that his department’s strategic plan included having a full-time assistant with a part-time assistant in the next five years.
The department currently has two part-time assistants.
“I feel this (software) would take enough work away so we would not need to add this (full-time) position in the next five years,” he said.
Mayor Brian Smith said two people, and sometimes four people, sitting at the desk in the department is not enough during busy registration times.
“I applaud Aaron for looking for a way to make it easier,” he said. “This is a way to make those using it pay for it. That is the way the system is going.”