Some Recreation Fees Heading Up

SALISBURY – Fees for certain recreation programs in Wicomico County will increase as costs related to minimum wage and COVID-19 regulations grow.

The Wicomico County Council this week voted 4-2, with Council President Larry Dodd and Councilman Joe Holloway opposed, to increase certain recreation fees starting this fiscal year.

“I’m not going to support this,” Holloway said. “This should have been done during the budget process, and this is not the time to raise fees on the citizens of Wicomico County. There has been COVID funds coming in, and I think they could be used for this.”

Earlier this month, officials with Wicomico County Recreation, Parks and Tourism came before the council seeking fee increases to certain recreation programs beginning in fiscal year 2021.

Deputy Director Katie Rouse said an increase in minimum wage, as well as COVID-19 regulations on childcare services, had increased costs associated with operating programs.

“As most of you are aware, minimum wage was increased at the beginning of this year to $11.75 an hour. This minimum wage increase is one of the two major factors that we considered when deciding what to set our fee rates at for the upcoming fiscal year,” she said at the time. “In addition to the minimum wage, we have COVID regulations that are put on to us for our childcare programs. We have to meet these regulations to operate the sites, and it affects both the number of people we can accommodate at each site and the required staff members at each site.”

The proposed fee schedule recommended by department staff includes a $5 increase for youth karate and junior golf, a $10-$13 increase for the after-school Kids Klub, and new fees ranging from $15 to $20 for before- and after-care at the Kids Klub program. Because registration is now open for summer camps, officials said fees would need to be adjusted in the current fiscal year.

Council members earlier this month questioned if the recreation and parks department had received CARES Act funding to cover program costs associated with the pandemic. While the department had received funds for its learning center, Rouse noted, it did not receive money for any other operations.

“When we ran the learning center at the Civic Center we did get some CARES Act funding for that,” she said. “But as far as summer camp goes, we have not received anything at this time.”

Back on the agenda for consideration this week, the council voted 4-2, with Councilwoman Nicole Acle absent from the vote, to amend the department’s fees for certain recreation programs.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.