(Maricopa County) – The Maricopa County Parks and Recreation Department is proposing fee increases to several categories in order to be able to continue providing quality outdoor recreation experiences for visitors who use the parks and conservation areas. Fees which may be adjusted include:
- day-use entry;
- camping and early check-out;
- Annual pass fees would remain the same; however, additional and replacement cards would increase; and
- Special Use Applications
In addition, the department is recommending that a hike/bike/equestrian annual pass be added to the variety of annual passes already available to better accommodate this expanding visitor group.
“The decision to address fees is never easy and is not made lightly,” stated R.J. Cardin, Maricopa County Parks and Recreation Director. “The department’s goal is to keep parks accessible and well maintained, while being fiscally responsible to county taxpayers. However, the need to recommend increases to some fees is fairly simple, the department is at a point where projected revenue will not match expenditures.”
“The department’s last day-use entrance fee increase was in 2007. This year, we are proposing a fee increase of $1, which is less than the annual rate of inflation over a 10 year 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,” added Cardin.
Currently, park visitors pay for approximately 63% of the overall department operating costs while the remaining 37% of the budget is derived from concessionaire revenue, partnership funding and the County General Fund.
In addition, the Parks Department works with hundreds of volunteers each year to expand the department’s 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 results of their exceptional service and efforts was a $2,250,828 cost savings for the department.
On October 19, the Maricopa County Parks and Recreation Commission reviewed the market study comparisons, public survey results, and further refined the proposed fee adjustments.
Before taking a vote on whether or not to recommend the proposed fee adjustments to the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, the Commission will hold a public meeting on Tuesday, November 14 at 10:00 am in the Cave Creek Regional Park Nature Center located at 37900 E. Cave Creek Parkway in Cave Creek to gather public input.
Parties interested in providing feedback on the proposed changes are encouraged to attend the November 14 public meeting or submit comments via a link on the website. If approved by the Commission, the recommendations will be then be forwarded onto the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors for consideration.
Should the proposed fee adjustments be approved by the Board, the new fee schedule would not go into effect until late spring or summer of 2018. The additional revenue collected from the adjustments will allow the department to preserve the natural and historic resources so future generations are able to experience and understand Maricopa County’s natural heritage.
For a complete listing of the current and proposed fees, benchmarking information, and a link to the electronic fee study survey, visit the Maricopa County Parks and Recreation Department website at www.maricopacountyparks.net/case-studies/2018-fee-study/.