A tight proposed 2013 budget means cost-saving measures are coming to the City of Warren's recreation programs.
Tuesday's meeting of the City Parks and Recreation Commission was highlighted by discussion of cost cuts and revenue improvements across a number of programs.
Committee members recommended that city council approve rate changes for most pool passes and single admissions to increase revenue.
Rates will increase $15 on most pool passes. However, some rates will increase less, such as that for adding an additional family member or a nanny to a pass.
Most single admissions will see an increase of $1, but the rate for children under six will remain the same.
"We're not suggesting rate increases that aren't warranted," said Assistant City Manager Mary Ann Nau, who participated by teleconference while on medical leave. "Compared to other pools in the area our rates were lower and we're just bringing them into line."
City Parks and Recreation Director Cindy Strandburg said the pool sold approximately 300 resident passes and saw average per-day traffic of 200 to 300 people this past summer.
"It's definitely better than shutting it down," Chairman Dennis Crandall said.
Strandburg also noted re-examining open hours could cut costs. The pool is open until 8 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, rather than until 5 p.m. as on other nights. According to Strandburg, there is a drop-off in attendance after 6 p.m. Strandberg suggested reducing some of the extra evening hours could save money being spent on employee compensation and increased chemical use.
The commission also recommended reducing the number of parks hosting the city's summer playground program.
Strandburg said Mulberry Playground and DeFrees Park saw the least program participants in 2012, hosting only 32 and 14 registrants, respectively, which is substantially less than the approximately100 registrants at the most active sites.
While five program sites Beaty, Crescent, DeFrees, Lacy and Mulberry hosted more total children than were registered, Mulberry and DeFrees also hosted the least total children, with 326 and 329, respectively. The two busiest program sites, Beatty and Lacy, hosted 752 and 829 children, respectively.
"At Mulberry, those kids up there play wiffle ball," Strandburg said. "If I don't have a supervisor there, those kids are still going to go play wiffle ball."
Nau pointed out Mulberry is also the program site with the least amenities and the least Americans with Disabilities Act compliance.
Strandburg estimated removing two parks from the program would save the city approximately $10,000 in personnel costs over the course of a summer. Additional savings would be realized through reduced maintenance and labor costs to the city's Department of Public Works.
"We're talking about just a formalized program we'd be cutting. The playground would still be there," Crandall added. "If they want to do a formalized program, they can still go to one of the other parks and have it."
Committee members agreed to recommend that cit council cut Mulberry and DeFrees as future program sites.
Committee members also examined hours at the concession stand at Betts Park.
Strandburg reported the stand grosses less than $150 on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and at least double that amount on weekends.
According to Strandburg, that results in the stand taking a net loss Monday through Thursday once costs for personnel, maintenance and utilities and supplies are factored in.
Strandburg cited an increase in park patrons bringing their own food and drinks as a contributing factor.
"We took a hit last year," Strandburg said. "We had a good loss down at Betts."
Strandburg suggested closing the concessions stand Monday through Thursday unless a special event is scheduled at the park.
"It can no longer be just a convenience," Crandall said.
Committee members also will be considering raising pavilion rental fees around the city, though actual figures have not yet been determined.
Any new fee structure will include different rental fees for residents and non-residents.
"The residents really should get a better rate than the non-residents," Nau said. "They're paying the taxes that subsidize these programs."
A "tent erection" fee was also discussed. Committee members cited incidents in which a group renting a pavilion erects additional tent canopies to increase usable, covered space and, in effect, cordoning off further area for private usage.
"They are reserving another section of the park when they put up a tent," Nau said.