Friday, March 6–OC Increases Fees For Rec Programs

OCEAN CITY –The Recreation and Parks Committee decided to continue to slightly raise the fees for town programs and events despite fears that participation may decrease this season.

In a move that seemingly happens every year in efforts to continue a constant flow of revenue stream, the Recreation and Parks Committee voted unanimously to continue to raise fees by a few dollars.

“Our traditional practice has been to review the prices and fees every year, and pass along small incremental increases on the thoughts that it’s easier for our customers to tolerate small increases year to year rather than holding prices steady for several years and then having to raise prices substantially,” said Special Events Director John Sullivan. “We think these raises are reasonable and will allow our revenue to increase.”

The one concern for the department this year is that enrollment or participation is going to decrease this year in lieu of the poor economic conditions.

“We are going cautiously into the summer,” said Recreation Supervisor Kate Gaddis. “Summer camps are a big part of our revenue, and we don’t want to over-project how much we are going to bring in this year, but we have been doing this for a number of years now, because frankly, everything goes up a few dollars every year.”

Gaddis said the department realizes the importance of keeping the prices charged for tournaments, special events and summer camps at an affordable price point.

“There is a lot of competition in recreation programs, and we don’t want to overprice ourselves, because we don’t want people to not participate in our programs because we are out pricing ourselves,” she said.

Gaddis said that the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day soccer tournament has more registered teams than ever before and feels that some of the programs that have been removed from the department have little to do with the grim economy.

“Some programs have been taken off either because they have run their course or the participation has gone down substantially, but others have been added to replace them,” said Gaddis.

Recreation and Parks Director Tom Shuster said that because of the current “different market climate”, it would be hard to project if programs are going to stay the same or draw more participants, but he did say that the program’s revenue has increased every year with the combination of increased participation and the aforementioned incremental fee increases.

“I’d like to make the point that not everything is going up,” said Councilman Lloyd Martin before motioning to move forward with the fee increases, “some things are staying the same.”

Council President Joe Mitrecic agreed, saying, “Some of these tournaments are very affordable when compared to other ones in the area especially for what we are offering and promising as far as how many games each team is guaranteed to play, so I think this is very fair.”