The Union Recorder

November 21, 2013

County discuses rec facility discounts

Kyle Collins
The Union-Recorder

MILLEDGEVILLE — Baldwin County Recreation Department Director Bill McNair presented a revamped facility use policy draft to the Baldwin County Commissioners during Tuesday’s work session.

The new draft includes reduced prices for nonprofit charitable, educational, governmental organizations and county employees.

That along with a new fee schedule isn’t ready for adoption just yet.

The potential policy says that health-related or public government entities offering free public services may request facility use at no cost.

“A description of that would be the blood donor truck that shows up and needs a place to park,” District 4 Commissioner Henry Craig said Tuesday. “There would be provisions for them to access our facilities at zero cost.”

Nonprofit faith-based organizations would receive a 25 percent discount over the full price for non-recreation facility use.

Requirements for both categories include proof of non-profit status and sending the request on organization letterhead a minimum of 60 days prior to the event. The recreation director and county manager, according to the potential department fee policy, must approve any request.

County employees can request a recreation facility for half the normal cost once per year also.

Commissioner Emily Davis, District 1, said employees should get free use “at least a couple of times per year.”

“We aren’t giving county employees any other perks, so why can’t we perk them?” Davis said. “They don’t get raises. There are a lot of other things they don’t get.”

Chairman Sammy Hall, District 3, disagreed with that notion.

“I don’t know about anyone else in here, but I worked for a while and didn’t get any perks,” Hall said. “I didn’t get a free ride on anything.”

Citizen Harry Keim said he said doesn’t understand why the county is trying to offer recreation waivers in general.

“Why shouldn’t it be straight across the board?” Keim commented Tuesday. “The county has problems, and this is another way we are waving income. It doesn’t make sense. If you want to use these facilities, you pay for them like everyone else.”

Commissioner Tommy French, District 2, said the discounts are community payback that brings revenue in return.

“By giving them a discount, it’s an incentive for them as well to come for those prices,” French said.

McNair said other Georgia counties let employees use recreation areas at discounts or even free of charge.

The 60-day request provisions for the designated groups will likely change based off Tuesday discussions.

McNair said the department could work with 30 days.

The commissioners want an hour-by-hour cost to run and maintain various fields and buildings before agreeing to the new fee schedule.

“We need to determine what our actual cost is, so with purpose we could decided that we are going to do it above or below cost,” Craig said. “A field for $125 per day has got to be below cost.”

McNair said the $125 price applies to football, softball and baseball fields.

The recreation director doesn’t want to scare people off.

“We can price ourselves out,” he said. 

Hall said he understands the market competition at a certain price point but the commission chair is concerned.

“If we aren’t charging enough to cover the cost, we are going in the hole,” Hall said. “Somewhere there is at least a break even point.”

The policy draft also states the concession stands must be open for public sales during all hours of scheduled league play and all tournaments at county recreation facilities.

“Whether we lease those stands out and contract services or we provide those services ourselves, we have to have concession stands out there on a regular basis for consistency. If there are any other vendors out there, that would have to go through the recreation department and they can’t conflict with the concession costs,” French said.

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