Aim to reduce $350K cost to taxpayers; fees for summer programs may also increase
The goal is to increase the revenue the city recovers from the programs and facilities, bringing them closer to sustainability. For example, the summer programs, which are held each year at city playgrounds, currently cost users $200 for eight weeks. Last summer, 934 children took part, and the program cost the city a total of $415,312, an amount reduced to $150,773 when grants and fees are included.
However, that still amounts to a subsidy of $161.43 for each child who took part. Under the option supported by the community services committee Feb. 4, the cost to participants in the summer programs would rise to $300, which would increase the recovery rate from 64 per cent to 86 per cent.
As for fitness centres, committee members also supported an option that would bring them closer to sustainability. With a current recovery rate of 62 per cent, the five city-owned facilities will cost taxpayers an estimated $350,247 in 2013.
The five are the Howard Armstrong Recreation Centre in Valley East, the Rayside Balfour Workout Centre, the Dowling Leisure Centre, the Falconbridge Recreation Centre and the Capreol Millennium Centre. Subsidies ranged from a low of $18,000 for the Howard Armstrong Centre, to a high of $125,000 for the Falconbridge centre.
Recovery rates for each vary, with a high of 93 per cent for the Howard Armstrong Centre, to a low of 19 per cent for the Dowling facility.
Under the option approved by the committee, the recovery rate for all the facilities will increase from 62 per cent to 75 percent, reducing the municipal subsidy to $229,542.
Although Ward 10 Coun. Frances Caldarelli pointed out that raising the cost of accessing already little-used facilities in a place such as Dowling could make matters worse.
“This could be counter-productive,” Caldarelli said.
However, staff responded that they were trying to get direction from the committee regarding what direction to take, and would return with a detailed plan at a later date. They’re also looking at marketing strategies that would encourage residents to make better use of the facilities, and reduce the cost to taxpayers.
With approval from the community services committee, the cost recovery options will now go to the finance committee for another look. If approved at finance, the proposals will go to city council for final approval.