Fairfax County Park Authority officials are considering minor adjustments in the annual fee package to be reviewed by the agency’s board in March.
The proposed changes would raise a total of just $241,000 more, or about one-third the amount approved during the past three annual adjustments, said spokesman Judy Pedersen.
“In our view, most of the conditions which drive increases have remained relatively constant,” she said. “To the best of my knowledge, there is nothing on the chopping block . . . We continue to aim big when it comes to collaboration and partnerships and are working hard to maximize those opportunities.”
About 68 percent of the Park Authority’s $70.7 million fiscal year 2018 budget is financed with fees. Park Authority leaders examine fees annually to bring them in line with the prevailing market and cover costs. By doing minor tweaks each year instead of less frequently, the agency avoids sudden price swings, park officials said.
Scheduling changes by Fairfax County Public Schools has led to use of the county’s RECenters later in the day, which reduced pass-holder and general-admission use of those facilities and affected scheduling of the Park Authority’s aquatic programs. The school system’s decision last year to begin classes before Labor Day for the first time likely will cost Park Authority about $320,000 in program time and customer availability, officials said.
Among the fee proposals:
* Rounds played at Park Authority golf courses dipped 2 percent in fiscal 2017. Agency officials would like to stimulate demand at the Laurel Hill Golf Club in Lorton by placing Friday greens fees back on the weekday cost schedule rather than the weekend one and eliminating the course’s Corporate Golf Membership program and its related fees.
Fees at some golf courses would increase. The cost of renting large buckets of golf balls would increase from $11 to $12 at the Burke Lake and Oak Marr driving ranges. Park officials also would like to establish power-cart rental fees of $10 per nine holes and $5 more for a second nine at Oak Marr.
The Park Authority is hoping a new Trackman Golf Simulator at Pinecrest Golf Course in Annandale, which will begin operations this summer, will prove popular. The simulator would cost $50 for the first hour and $30 per hour subsequently.
• Attendance was down 0.74 percent at RECenters during that fiscal year, with five facilities seeing lower attendance and four reporting more. RECenter revenue was up 1.74 percent, thanks to increased rental receipts at six sites and admission payments up at eight. Trends show RECenter admission prices are right at the market’s tolerance, said park officials, who are not proposing to increase the fees this year.
Officials propose to increase the hourly rental rate at Mount Vernon RECenter’s ice rink from $312 to $318 and boost by roughly 3 percent the base rental costs for RECenter swimming pools.
• The agency’s lakefront parks continue to be popular, attracting more than 2 million visits in fiscal 2017. Park Authority officials would like to begin charging for-profit or commercial groups of 12 or more $5 per county resident and $10 per non-resident at Burke Lake, Lake Accotink and Lake Fairfax. The fees would match those charged at Clemyjontri Park in McLean and Our Special Harbor Sprayground at Lee District Park.
• Rental rates for sand volleyball courts at Burke Lake, Lake Accotink, Lee District, Nottoway and Stratton Woods parks would increase by $5 to $25 per hour or $20 per hour if also renting a picnic shelter.
• Park Authority staff recommends requiring three-night-minimum stays at campsites over the Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends and the July 4 holiday.
• New picnic shelters will be offered during fiscal 2018 at McLean’s Clemyjontri Park and Riverbend Park in Great Falls. Clemyjontri Shelter No. 2 would be rentable for $120 per hour and Riverbend Shelter No. 2 for $200 per hour during prime periods and $180 hourly for non-prime times.
* The Park Authority also would like to begin charging a $50-per-hour fee to private groups wishing to operate a food truck on park property in conjunction with a picnic permit. The trucks would have to be solely for the group’s use and not sell goods to the public. The application fee would be non-refundable, even if the Park Authority denied a group’s request.
• Agency officials wish to eliminate the equestrian pasture-area and jump-equipment fees at Frying Pan Farm Park, as those have not been used for five years. The Park Authority also would like to charge a $20 daily fee for stall rental at Frying Pan’s equestrian facilities and boost the fee for exclusive use of the site’s cross-country course from $300 to $350.
• Because boat rentals at Riverbend Park have shot up 42 percent in the last five years, the Park Authority is proposing to increase single-person-kayak rental fees from $15 to $18 per half-day and from $25 to $30 for a full day. Rental fees for two-person kayaks and rowboats would stay the same, but full-day canoe rentals would rise from $30 to $32.
The Park Authority Board will vote on the proposed fee changes March 14; ones approved would take effect April 1.
County residents can weigh in on the proposed fee changes at a meeting on Jan. 17 at 7 p.m. in Room 106 of the Herrity Building 12055 Government Center Parkway in Fairfax.
The public can mail or e-mail comments to the agency through Feb. 1. E-mails should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org and letters to Attention Public Information Office/Fee Comments, Fairfax County Park Authority, 12055 Government Center Parkway, Suite 927, Fairfax, VA 22035.