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‘Pyramid methodolgy’ will help determine park service fees

ENCINITAS — Encinitas residents could see higher fees for certain parks and recreation services, but the city is asking residents to help them prioritize the programs as part of the fee-planning process.

The Parks and Recreation Department is hosting five meetings in October in which they will unveil a new methodology for developing the fees, using a “pyramid methodology” developed by a Colorado-based recreation consultant firm and used in other jurisdictions, such as Carlsbad and the County of San Diego.

The “pyramid” arranges the department’s programs in order of who benefits from them: the base of the pyramid is reserved for programs that benefit the community at large, while the tip is reserved for programs that have a predominantly individual benefit.

“The reason for the workshop is so that we can see which programs the community feels are not only the most important, but provide the widest benefit,” said Mike Stauffer, a senior recreation analyst. “Programs that have larger community benefit are more likely to be subsidized with general fund dollars, while those with mostly individual benefits are the ones that are going to be the least subsidized, if they are subsidized at all.”

Overall, general fund dollars subsidize about 80 percent of the park and recreation budget, which includes operations and maintenance. Increasing fees for programs with greater individual benefit could free up general fund dollars for other city services.

City officials said they have not compared the subsidy rate to other cities in the county, but don’t plan to compare theirs with others because of the different dynamics and programs each community provides.

“Our community has different needs than a Carlsbad, Oceanside or other community,” Stauffer said. “What fits and works for our model here might not be the same values in, let’s say, La Mesa.”

Residents at each workshop will be asked to identify where they feel each of the programs should fall on the pyramid. The city will take the input from each of the meetings and create a consensus pyramid that will be used to guide the rest of the fee structuring process.

City Parks and Recreation Director Lisa Rudloff said the city isn’t just trying to raise fees for the sake of generating more revenue.

“Although fee adjustments are likely, the goal is … to ensure a sustainable system into the future by using tax revenues and fees in the most appropriate ways,” Rudloff said.

The meetings are scheduled for 1:30 p.m. to 4 pm. and 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Oct 6 and 9:30 a.m. to noon, 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Encinitas Senior and Community Center, 1140 Oakcrest Drive.

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