Admission and drop-in fees could rise in 2019 to offset revenue shortfall

Herald file photo.

Rates and fees for the Kinsmen Water Park are set to rise as the City of Prince Albert grapples with a revenue shortfall in the Department of Community Services.

According to a report presented at Tuesday’s executive committee meeting, revenue projections for the city’s recreation facilities will likely fall short by around $97,000.

Derek Blais, recreation manager for the City of Prince Albert, said the water park wasn’t the only facility that didn’t meet this year’s revenue target, but it was the most noticeable.

“Looking at it right now, we didn’t know how drastic the change of allowing anybody under the age of six coming in for free (in 2018) would have,” Blais explained during the meeting. “We also had budgeted for the new pool to open June 1 and we were a month late for that, (which) had a bit of an effect on it.”

To help erase that revenue shortfall, the department plans to raise general admission to the water park by $1 for adults and 50 cents for youth and seniors. After hour rentals will increase slightly to compensate for a new wage agreement with park staff, while three-month summer memberships will actually be cheaper as the department attempts to sell more of them.

“Our costs have gone up,” Blais said. “Everything else has gone up, so either it goes back on the user or it goes to the taxpayer. We try to find that balance.”

Mayor Greg Dionne said the city has paid for millions of dollars in upgrades to the water park, and given that investment it’s only natural to charge more to use it.

“I don’t think that people have an issue paying that little extra, especially when you see the new pool that we added compared to the old (one),” Dionne said during the meeting. “I would have went a little further (in raising fees) because we’ve invested millions of dollars into that pool in the last couple of years and I think a little return on that investment is not (out of the) question.”

While there was little resistance to raising fees at the water park, the same could not be said of rates changes at the Margo Fournier Centre and Alfred Jenkins Fieldhouse. Drop-in and bulk pass rates could increase at all three facilities in 2019.

Drop-in rates would go up by 50 cents for adults, with youth and seniors paying an additional 25 cents, while bulk rates would rise by $2 for adults and $1 for youth and seniors.

Ward 6 Coun. Blake Edwards said the fee decreases in previous years helped increase the number of people using both facilities, and he worried a new increase would end that trend.

Drop-in rates at the Alfred Jenkins Field House were $6.50 for both youth and seniors in 2016-17. Both were lowered to $5 in 2018. Through the first eight months of the year, youth drop-in rates have increased by 61 per cent compared to last year, while senior drop-in rates increased by 105 per cent. Those numbers are for all city recreation facilities.

“There’s success there and a big success, so why change a good thing,” Edwards said. “We’re creeping the numbers back up to where we didn’t have success.”

Fees for every other facility will increase by between two and four per cent due to either inflation or market adjustments. In total, the fee changes are expected to bring in an additional $86,530 in 2019, which would lower the budget deficit to around $10,000.

The proposed changes won’t be official until later in October, when the city’s elected officials begin their 2019 budget deliberations. However, the motion did receive tentative approval on Tuesday, passing by a 5-3 margin.