Columbia Parks and Recreation Department to hold public meeting on fees

Wednesday, April 16, 2008 | 4:53 p.m. CDT; updated 2:19 a.m. CDT, Friday, July 18, 2008

COLUMBIA — A public meeting to discuss fees for Columbia Parks and Recreation Department programs has been scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday.

The meeting, located at the Activity and Recreation Center at 1701 W. Ash St., is part of an effort by the Parks and Recreation Department to look at the current costs of programs and to set goals to recover a reasonable amount of those costs.

Gary Ristow, manager of recreation services, said that depending on the program, fees paid by participants may cover nearly all of the expenses, as in the case of the ARC, or very little of the costs, as in many programs for low-income families.

The goal is to set fees that the community believes are reasonable.

“We’re not in the business of making money, but we are in the business of being fiscally responsible,” Ristow said.

During the meeting, the department will seek community feedback about the level of fees for youth and adult sports leagues, golf course green, swimming pools and the ARC.

Parks and Recreation also will be working with consultant Barbara Heller of PROs Consulting to assess current fees and to compare them with those of other cities.

“We want to make sure we’re on the right track,” Ristow said.

Finally, Parks and Recreation will see whether it should reorganize staff to increase efficiency and whether staff needs might change in the future. However, Ristow said, no employees would be laid off as a result of the analysis.

“We are getting a tremendous workload out of (our employees),” he said.

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