The Maricopa County Parks and Recreations Department is proposing an increase in some parks’ fees. The additional revenue will allow us to continue providing quality outdoor recreation experiences for current visitors and to preserve parks and conservation areas for future generations.
The decision to address fees is never easy, and is not made lightly. The department’s goal is to keep parks accessible and well-maintained, while being fiscally responsible to county taxpayers. One way of demonstrating fiscal responsibility is by asking those that visit the parks to pay for a portion of the day-to-day operating costs.
The proposed fees are in line with other parks in the state and region, and took into account feedback from the public. We believe Maricopa County Parks continue to be a great value for visitors and a phenomenal return on investment for the community.
Currently, park visitors pay for approximately 63% of the overall department operating costs while the remaining 37% of the budget is derived from concessionaire fees (16%), partnership funding (12%) and the County General Fund (9%). In addition, the Parks Department works with hundreds of volunteers each year to expand its capacity to maintain parks and provide high-quality visitor experiences. Last year, volunteers contributed more than 95,000 hours of expertise and service to the parks. The result of their exceptional service and efforts was a $2,250,828 savings for the department.
Maricopa County’s leadership continues to believe in and support the quality of life and economic benefits offered by a vibrant regional park system. In demonstration of that support, the county continues to provide significant capital improvement funding for park improvements and renovations. This year, the county is funding significant park improvements in nearly every park.
WHY INCREASE FEES NOW?
The need to recommend increases in some fees is fairly simple: the department is at a point where projected revenue will not match expenditures.
The fees being proposed for increase include the following:
As you review the fees being proposed, here is some additional information to help you better understand the request:
- The fee increases, if approved, will not go into effect until late spring or summer of 2018, and several of the new fees being proposed are the result of visitor feedback from a public survey* released by the department.
- The department is not seeking to increase all fees. For example, the annual pass rate will remain the same.
- When considering a new fee or fee increase, the department benchmarks against other service providers in the state and region to make sure fees are not out of line with the market.
- The primary reason for the proposed fee increase is the increased cost of doing business. During the recession years, the county made a conscious effort not to increase daily entrance fees to keep park access as affordable as possible.
- The department’s last day-use entrance fee increase was in 2007. The proposed fee increase of $1 is less than the annual rate of inflation over that period.
- Inflation, although relatively modest, continues to increase and is displayed in what the department pays for: goods and services - including basic utilities; equipment; insurance; technology; maintenance, and repair charges.
- The camping fees were last increased in 2014, and the fee increase being proposed is consistent with the increases in inflation during the four years since 2014-2018.
- Any visitor fees that are not used for routine operations and maintenance in a given year are put to use in future years for major maintenance projects like water and sewer line improvements and restroom repairs. All park fees collected remain in the parks system.
During the past month, the department sought out public feedback on park fees, and over 1,100 people provided input. While the clear majority are not excited about any increase to fees, the majority also expressed they were getting a good value for the fees being paid and that it was reasonable to expect fees may need to be raised to keep up with inflation.
The county parks are a point of pride for all as they provide visitors an opportunity to escape the busy city life, enjoy the sights and sounds of nature, improve physical health, and experience a pristine desert open space. The department will continue to be good stewards of the land, and provide park visitors with exceptional outdoor experiences.
The department solicited feedback from the public from October 24 - November 13. Public comments were presented to the Maricopa County Parks Commission on November 14, 2017.
PUBLIC MEETING INFORMATION
||Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Public Hearing
||Maricopa County Parks and Recreation Commission - Public Meeting
||Thursday, November 14 (Meeting Held)
Cave Creek Regional Park Nature Center
37900 E. Cave Creek Parkway
Cave Creek, AZ 85331
||Please click here to be rerouted to the calendar entry.