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Fraser rec district examines ways to pay for rising expenses

by Stephanie Miller
Sky-Hi Daily News

The Fraser Valley Recreation Metropolitan District may have to raise fees for its classes in order to meet rising expenses. Or such was the direction of discussion at its first review hearing Tuesday night for the 2008 budget.

Jim Fox, president of the board of directors, pointed out that the parks and recreation department has an inbalance with expense growth versus revenue in its 2008 budget projections. Scott Ledin, director of parks and recreation, said because of cost of living increases and staff adjustments, payroll related expenses went up by roughly 7 percent.

Fox suggested that the department increase its revenue. Ledin said that can be done in a couple ways.

“We could increase the number of participants (in our classes), or we can slightly raise fees in some of those classes,” Ledin said. He added that the fee rates “haven’t been touched for a while.”

The district has two more budget meetings. Ledin plans to review his options and have more discussion at the next budget meeting on Nov. 27.

He added that the parks and recreation department has a carry-over of $19,000 from last year, which will be put into the operation and maintenance fund for the proposed recreation center. If the vote doesn’t pass, it will be put into the reserve fund for future capital projects.

Larry Burks, general manager for Pole Creek Golf Course, pointed out that the projected revenue for the golf course in 2008 is $1,540,000 ($44,000 was carried over from 2006). The golf course is considering “potentially” raising fees next year from Friday through Sunday, he said.

The potential raise, Burks explained, is caused by higher expenses in ’07 than were budgeted for due to rising electricity rates and the cost of mitigating the beetle kill problem on the golf course. It was also due to a budgeting error in merchandise sales. Burks said the shop made $85,000 less than budgeted.

Raising rates on Friday through Sunday could bring in an additional $85,000, Burks estimated, and would keep Pole Creek competitive with surrounding golf courses.

There was also some discussion about potential revenue loss in ’08 during the construction process at the golf course if the Community Enhancement Project ballot question passes this fall. But Burks pointed out that if the project passes and an irrigation system is put in, people can still play through on the holes not being worked on.

Burks agreed to look at what the potential revenue loss could be if a clubhouse and irrigation system is installed next year (pending on this fall’s ballot), and he will address it at the next budget meeting in November.

As of the end of September, revenue for the recreation district was up by roughly $57,800. Expenses, however, were over budget by about $60,000.

In revenue, the golf course is ahead by about $32,000 from budget, but has a projected revenue loss (expenses) of around $33,000 for 2007 (but that is not why Burks is considering raising rates on weekends next year, he said). The revenue loss is due to the restrooms that were installed this year, which cost roughly $292,000 ” $135,000 more than what was budgeted for, due to construction issues. He does not believe the golf course will make up for that loss by the end of the year. It will come out of Pole Creek’s reserve fund.

Burks still believes the golf course had a good year despite the revenue loss.

“For us to do $300,000 worth of capital projects, and only lose $33,000 at the golf course ” I think we did a god job in maintaining the budgets. It was still a good year ” the revenue was better than we projected ” but the expenses were higher than budgeted.”

” To reach Stephanie Miller, call (970) 887-3334, ext. 19601 or e-mail smiller@grandcountynews.com.


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