Friday, 27 July 2018 10:08

Council approves 2018-20 rates for Swift Current community facilities

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The rates for using City of Swift Current Community Services facilities will change in the fall after the completion of a rate review. The updated facility rates were approved at a regular council meeting, July 16. The revised rates will be in effect from Sept. 1, 2018 to Aug. 31, 2020.

 

Nicole Spenst from the City's Community Services Division provided details about the facility rate review during the meeting.

“Rates are reviewed and assessed for the City of Swift Current's Community Services facilities every two years,” she said.

These facilities can be divided into minimal or non-revenue generating generating facilities and revenue generating facilities. 

“Historically, council has directed the revenue generating facilities to recover 40 per cent of overall total facility operating costs,” she mentioned.

The City's minimal or non-revenue generating facilities include ball diamonds, tennis courts, outdoor rinks, soccer pitches, beach volleyball courts and park rentals.

Other facilities are generating more revenue through user fees. The main revenue generating facilities include the Innovation Credit Union i-plex, the Aquatic Centre and Fairview pool, the Fairview Arena, Lt. Colonel Clifton Centre and Kinetic Exhibition Park.

“The user fees offset the operational expenses of the facility,” she said. “The combined fees of the revenue generating facilities also reduces the operational expenses of the minimal or non-revenue generating facilities, which have operational expenses but receive limited revenues. The revenue generating facilities also reduce the overall costs of operating the entire Community Services Division.”

Spenst noted that the Community Services Division recovered 40 per cent of overall operating costs in 2017 and for 2018 the budget goal is to recover 42 per cent of costs.

The Community Services Division spends a significant amount of time to establish and monitor facility rates, while also calculating future operational expenses and revenue targets to achieve recovery rates.

“All rates are not automatically increased by the same percentage,” she said. “Each rate for each facility is reviewed and some increase, some remain the same, and a few go down to meet the market. Upon reviewing the market and the facility usages for the past two years, there are some rates that we are holding constant in hopes to drive more patrons to utilize the services to increase the revenue.”

The new facility rates for September 2018 to August 2020 will include an increase in ice rental rates at the Innovation Credit Union i-plex and Fairview Arena.

“The indoor skating arenas need the increase to cover the increased operational expenses,” she said. “Our arena rates are one of the lowest in the province for similar sized cities.”

The ice rental rates for minor groups during prime time (3:30 p.m. – 11 p.m.) is currently $99 per hour. It will increase to $106 per hour in 2018/19 and to $111 per hour in 2019/20. The rental rates outside prime time (6 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.) will increase from the current $54 per hour to $58 per hour in 2018/19 and to $61 per hour in 2019/20.

According to Spenst the admission rates at the City's aquatic facilities are already at the “high end of the market” and for the next two years the daily admission fee will remain the same while there will be a slight increase in the rates for different passes.

Councillor Bruce Deg felt it is important to keep a balance between cost recovery and keeping it affordable for residents to use the facilities.

“I personally appreciate the fact that we have a minimal cost recovery compared to some other jurisdictions,” he said. “Forty-ish per cent to 45 per cent makes our facilities affordable for our community members and I feel that's important, considering the diversity of our community.”

According to Councillor Ryan Plewis the question facing the City in considering facility rates is how much of the cost is funded through taxation and how much is funded through the people who actually use those facilities. The big challenge is to achieve a balance between cost recovery and affordability. He added that not all users are necessarily taxpayers in Swift Current.

“I would like to see some more contribution from some of the people that surround us, from the R.M.'s and towns,” he said. “In Saskatchewan that's a very commonplace way to do things, for example in Estevan and Weyburn the R.M.'s right around those communities pay grants to the City to help operate those facilities and we have a very limited amount of that in our area, which is something we continue to talk about with our friends in the R.M. as well. It's something to keep in mind and it's something we will continue to talk about and something that I just want people and the public to know that we are thinking about.”

 

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Matthew Liebenberg

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