BY MIKE FUHRMAN

Non-residents may soon be charged more than Town of Mooresville residents to use the town’s parks and recreation facilities and participate in some town-sponsored programs.

Several town commissioners expressed support for that change from the current fee structure during a recent presentation by a Colorado-based parks consultant.

The town paid GreenPlay LLC $19,996 to:
♦ Analyze the town’s current pricing policy and methods;
♦ Train staff on an instrument to calculate direct costs of programs and services;
♦ Measure current cost-recovery levels and establish cost-recovery target levels; and
♦ Provide a final report and presentation to the Board of Commissioners

GreenPlay consultant Chris Dropinksi presented her firm’s recommendations during a meeting with commissioners last week. She recommended implementing a tier-pricing structure in which user fees are based on whether the activities primarily benefit the community rather than individuals and private groups.

Under that model, facility use for programs which have community-wide benefit, such as town programs for youth and seniors, would cost less than facility use for private events or lessons.

Parks & Recreation Director Pamela Reidy said GreenPlay’s recommendations will help her department justify what it charges for programs and services.

“The new system of tier pricing allows staff to use a methodology to price programs fairly and equitably,” Reidy explained in an email. “Previously, as new programs and services were offered, there was no formal way to determine how much to charge.”

Pricing for programs and facility use should be reasonable for the majority of participants, and the town should provide financial assistance to families and individuals who cannot afford the fees, Dropinski told the commissioners.

The consultant also recommended small annual increases for most facility use. The town has not increased user fees for parks and recreation programs during the past decade, according to Reidy.

Commissioners stressed that the goal of the parks and recreation department is to serve the community.

“We’re not in the business to make money,” Commissioner Bobby Compton said. “But it doesn’t hurt to try to recoup costs.”

Reidy recommended creating separate fee schedules for residents and non-residents, a practice that is commonplace elsewhere.

“Based on the discussion with the Board of Commissioners during the consultant’s presentation, staff is exploring a move to establishing different fees for residents and non-residents and will provide its recommendation to the Board when the project’s final report is issued,” she told Iredell Free News after the presentation.

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