PLATTSBURGH — To start bridging the gap between expenses and revenues, the city upped some rec fees, including rates at its Crete Memorial Civic Center.
The changes, effective immediately, increased pricing for soccer and football leagues, as well as field, event and city property rentals.
It was after the City of Plattsburgh announced that its four Rec Complex facilities were in the red that their directors were tasked with making cost-saving suggestions.
The recently approved fee schedule was to up the city's 2020 revenues by an estimated $347,000, covering about half of what the city's General Fund fronts annually for its rec facilities.
City Councilor Rachelle Armstrong (D-Ward 1) praised the city's Recreation Department for its cooperation.
"It was a tough job to do," she said. "We can't predict the future and what effect it will have, but it was something that, I think, there was a consensus that we needed to do."
Each city-run rec facility — the Crete Center, Plattsburgh City Beach, Plattsburgh City Marina and the City Recreation Center, or gym — was shown to have major financial deficits.
The Crete Center, though, had the most dramatic shortfall with a deficit of about 97 percent.
The center's 2019 operational costs were estimated at $319,000, but it's revenues were only estimated at $144,000.
When the deficits were announced, rumors of rec facility closures spread throughout the community and caused upset.
After some deliberation, city officials opted to up user fees.
"Definitely we need some long-range planning in terms of what capital investments we're willing to make — if any at all — in the Crete in the future," Armstrong said, adding that a shared county-wide complex could be a solution down the line.
"It's a tough call."
With the recent changes, hourly field rentals at the Crete Center went from $35 to $65 for half of the field and $70 to $100 for the full field.
Soccer and football team registrations went up, as well, which will come into play for the soccer season's second session, beginning in late January.
For a recreational soccer team, the price was upped from $625 to $875.
Community Development Director Matthew Miller said the teams had an average of 10 players, equaling $87.50 per team member, per season.
"That works out to be an increase from $7.52 (per player) a game, to $10.94 (per player) a game," Miller said. "So a little over $3 more per game."
Competitive soccer team registrations will now cost $975 for the full season and adult football teams will cost $700.
As for individual sign ups, city residents will be charged $30 more per season and non-city residents will be charged $40 more.
The cost associated with the put-down and take-up of the Crete Center's event floor was increased from $875 to $1,000, plus a $500 surcharge on event day for floor use.
Other fee updates charge more for the use of other city property, like its tables and chairs.
Those sorts of fees were just upped last year, Miller said.
"If you look at the increases and compare the turf field rates to the event rates, there are more increases centered on the field rates," he said. "It has been quite a while longer that the turf field rates were raised."
That, the development director guessed, hadn't happened since 2013 or before.
TAKING THE RISK
Miller said the projected 2020 revenues did not account for a loss in rec users as a result of the higher rates.
"The budget projections were based on the assumption that we would have a consistent level of usage compared to the prior years," Miller said.
"To get a reasonable expectation of loss because of raised rates, you have to have some historical data to base a model off of," he continued. "We don't have anything detailed enough.
"It's going to be largely determined by how people react."
But, Councilor Armstrong said, that was always a factor.
"This is a variable that we discussed and you can't entirely predict," she said. "It was a risk we were willing to take, because we knew we had to cover our costs.
"That's what this is all about."
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