The Sunset Empire Park and Recreation District will consider its fee structure for both in-district and out-of-district residents who use the district for its programs and facilities.

The district’s last fee increase was in 2017, executive director Skyler Archibald said. “We have talked about it numerous times before the pandemic, but we didn’t move forward with it at that time,” he said at last week’s board of directors meeting.

“We’d like to keep our industry resident’s rates low at the same level right now,” he said. “But we do need to increase our out-of-district resident rate to help offset the fact that we’re serving those large communities. They are not necessarily lifting the same amount of weight on the load that we’re all trying to carry. So we’d like to propose an increase in our nonresident rate from 50% roughly as a couple that were a little lower to 75% and then consider elimination of all options for all options district residents.”

Rising wages and utility bills impact the bottom line and cost of doing business, Archibald said.

Archibald presented a fee comparison, assessing the out-of-district rate with that of an in-district resident, which ranged from a 45% to 50% difference in cost.

The fee review also included comparisons between fees in other districts, including the Bend Park and Recreation District, Chehalem Park and Recreation District in Newberg and the Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District. Each of those had fees slightly higher than Sunset Empire in general admission, 10-day pass, monthly and annual fees for residents and non-residents.

“By and large, SEPRD programs and access cost less than counterparts in other agencies throughout the state,” he wrote in a presentation. “Other districts may utilize an out-of-district rate with rates similar or in some cases lower than SEPRD.”

Park district revenue is generated from property taxes, timber taxes, donations and grants, program fees and facility rentals. The district’s permanent tax rate is 0.9280 per $1,000 of assessed value, generating about $1.89 million in tax resources to be collected. The average district resident pays $21.95 monthly in taxes to the park district.

In 2021, district residents accounted for 71.5% of the total from program revenues, passes, and other sales income. Nonresidents accounted for the other 28.5%.

“Our district residents are really providing the bulk,” Archibald said. “Without our permanent tax rate and our district residents supporting us, the district wouldn’t be what it is and we would have a hard time maintaining operations for very long.”

The district proposal suggests keeping in-district resident rates intact. The nonresident rate would increase from 50% to 75% higher than the in-district costs. An annual family swim pass, for example, would be $525 for a district resident, a cost that would remain the same. Out-of-district residents would see the fee rise from $780 to about $920.

Open swim single rates would increase from $3.25 for out-of-district residents to $4.

The board could also consider eliminating out-of-district punch passes or open swims.

The district’s boundaries follow that of the Seaside School District, excluding the incorporated areas of Gearhart and Cannon Beach, who have to date rejected joining the recreation district.

“I would say I think there’s an opportunity there,” Archibald said. “But it has to be dealt with the right strategy and with care and relationships. And I think what we need to do as a district is to position ourselves to being a really attractive recreation hub.

Archibald said he expects one more meeting before bringing this proposal up in the public meeting for approval and adoption.

Enactment of the fee changes are proposed for September.

“Even though the amount may or may not turn out to be hundreds of thousands of dollars, this is a big deal to us and to our patrons and to our community,” he said.

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