County Rec Proposes Fee Changes

SNOW HILL — Hoping to eventually break even, the Recreation and Parks Department will be reducing financial aid offered and adding new non-program fees.

Although never a profitable department for Worcester, Director Paige Hurley is optimistic that it might be able to switch from red to black ink in the near future. To facilitate that, the department will be establishing a firm 60-percent maximum financial aid policy. Currently, the amount of aid offered varies but can be high. While it’s great for residents, Hurley pointed out that it is bleeding his department.

“However, after completing a cost analysis on our financial aid pricing that is given to those youth participants who show a demonstrated need, we would like to increase the percentage that the participant must cover to 40-percent of the initial program cost,” Hurley said. “Last year alone, the department lost $14,700 in revenue due to the financial aid pricing. Also, after speaking with the other Recreation Departments in Maryland, no one provides a discount lower than 50-percent off the original program price. Even with this increase, our programs will still be offered at a reasonable price for all citizens.”

In addition to that change, Hurley proposed several non-program fees for things like field set-up and tournaments. Cost to host a private tournament will increase by $25, meaning a total cost of $125 for residents and $150 for non-residents. For municipal tournaments, a new fee of $200 per field rental per day will be put in place.

Hurley noted there has not been a separate fee for municipal tournaments in the past, instead using the private fee rate, but the department has lost money hosting large events.

“Through our partnership with Wicomico County to help host the USSSA World Series, we have determined that the fee is not covering all of our expenses for this multiple day, labor intensive tournament,” ” he wrote in a memo to the County Commission.

Finally, a set-up fee will be implemented for softball/baseball fields and multi-purpose fields, $5 and $25, respectively.

Commissioner Judy Boggs asked if the changes will “bring us to equal” or if money will still be lost.

“There will still be a loss because we don’t want to go really significant on the burden to the people,” said Hurley.

However, the new fees plus future fundraising efforts could bring the department closer to a zero balance.