Montcalm County park fees may increase 10 percent


By Elisabeth Waldon • Last Updated 8:34 pm on Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Camp Ford Lincoln on Townline Lake near Lakeview is among the county parks that will see rental fee increases if the Montcalm County Board of Commissioners approves a Parks and Recreation Committee recommendation at the Oct. 24 meeting. (File photo)

STANTON — Montcalm County park users will likely pay more in rental rates this coming year.
The Montcalm County Parks and Recreation Committee voted unanimously Tuesday to increase park fees by 10 percent.
The Board of Commissioners voted down a proposed 10 percent park fee increase in 2008. Members of the Parks & Recreation Committee approved that same proposal Tuesday. Park fees have not been increased since the early 2000s.
The full Board of Commissioners will officially vote on the recommendation on Oct. 24. If approved, the increase will generate from $1,500 to $2,000 more for the county.
“The revenue that will be generated is hopefully going to offset the costs for all the parks,” said Controller-Administrator Chris Hyzer.
Camp Ford Lincoln, located on Townline Lake east of Lakeview, generates the most revenue for the county, steadily increasing from $6,060 in 2005 to $12,600 this year. McCarthy Park between Turk Lake and Langston generates the second most revenue, ranging from $260 in 2005 and peaking at $1,420 last year before dropping down to $370 this year.
Two similar motions died at Tuesday’s Parks & Rec Committee meeting. One proposal called for a 20 percent park fee increase while another proposal called for increasing the actual fees instead of a percentage increase. Both motions died for lack of support.
Parks & Recreation Committee members said they have received complaints from local private campgrounds that the county is taking business away from them because county park fees are so low.
“I don’t think we ought to be competing with the private sector,” said Montcalm County Drain Commissioner Don Cooper. “We ought to at least be comparable.”
“We should not be lower or at least much lower than private enterprise or interfere with that,” agreed District 5 Commissioner Carl Paepke. “The main enterprise should be the private campgrounds. The county can pick up the difference.”
Hyzer said county parks historically are booked solid from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Off-season rentals are another matter. Paepke said county officials counted on funds to be generated during the winter, but that hasn’t happened.
“I think one of the reasons that’s never worked is that we’ve never had anybody so we’ve never had any word of mouth,” Paepke said. “There’s a lot of people who like snowmobiling and fishing and so on. If they knew it was there, I know they would rent it.”
Maintenance Department personnel will reduce park maintenance due to recent county budget cuts. However, Hyzer emphasized that the parks will not be ignored.
“It’s not like we’re going to totally abandon the parks,” he said. “We’re going to maintain them minimally and, if time allows, do more. We’ll make sure they’re presentable and maintained.”

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