MANATEE -- As the county deals with a bare bones budget, look for fees for some services to be implemented or to increase.
Already this week, the county commission approved a new range of fees for the Parks and Recreation department, which is set to lose 17 positions if the proposed budget is approved.
New fees could help cover the costs of some of the services the department provides, said Cindy Turner, Parks and Recreation director.
“Unfortunately, I don’t think anyone would want to give up an ambulance for any of our services,” she said.
The recreation center brings in nearly $390,000 in annual revenues, but expenses are $621,000 a year.
Annual fees for the court tennis program for youth will rise from $150 to $275. A six-month membership will rise from $120 to $150 and the three-month membership rises from $80 to $100.
Turner said that was the only fee to increase now because “the fee was way out of line,” she said. The county compared its fees to similar programs across the region and “ours was extremely low.”
In addition to increases to the youth memberships for clay tennis courts, the department is considering adding new fee-based programs, including a summer recreation center membership. The summer membership is proposed at $99 for adults and $175 for a family of four.
Turner said she also wants to add highly requested personal training sessions for $40 an hour.
The new fee schedule commissioners approved Tuesday also means that Turner’s department can increase all fees and implement new fees up to a certain amount on services the county provides at all of its parks facilities.
New fees and programs are being considered at the newly opened and popular Fort Hamer rowing center. The new fees would include shell storage fees ($180 a seat per year for the slick boats), hourly and daily rental rates for the launch boats that go out with the rowers and a daily fee for rowing crews of $5 per day, per rower.
While the department currently does not offer any rowing programs, Turner said they would like to work with Palmetto High School’s rowing coach to design some adult and youth rowing programs through the county. Commissioners approved fees for rowing programs at $300 per person.
Before the department implements new rates at the Fort Hamer rowing center, Turner said she will get feedback from the community, including Benderson Development Co. and Sarasota County,
“These are fees that we may consider charging in the future,” Turner said. “It hasn’t been determined whether we will start charging fees this year.”