Columbia Parks and Recreation fees to change

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COLUMBIA – The Columbia City Council approved fee changes for activities and programs provided by the Parks and Recreation Department, giving the department $154,000 more per year in revenue.

The council approved the changes at its meeting Monday and included the additional money in the city’s 2017 budget.

Most fees are increasing, including renting park shelters or taking swim lessons. Some fees, like those for adult sports, will decrease. The fee changes are laid out in the council memo.

Mike Griggs, the director of the Parks and Recreation Department, said the programs depend on the fee increases.

“It is the cost of doing business,” he said. “We want to keep things at the bare minimum cost so people can enjoy them, yet at the same time, we need to recover our costs of putting the programs on.”

Griggs said the extra fees collected will go directly to the program they are charged for.

Scott Meislin, a frequent visitor of Columbia parks, said, although the increases may be necessary, he can also see it negatively affecting some people.

“There always has to be a balance,” he said. “I understand the need to have good, well-positioned parks and the money to keep them well-kept, but at the same time, we don’t need to have fees so high that the people who need to use the parks the most are priced out of being able to.”

The decreasing fees will be lower in order to meet the market value of the programs and so more people will want to participate in them.

The changes will take effect Oct. 1.

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