Recreation fees to be increased

COVINGTON -- Turner Lake Complex will remain open on Saturdays, but rental fees, gym user fees and youth recreation fees will increase.

Plans initially were to close the facility on Saturdays to help make up a budget shortfall.

"Shutting down on Saturdays was going to be detrimental. We have a lot of kids that like to play and a lot of rentals," said Recreation Commission Tommy Hailey.

Typically the commission budgets $35,000 in rental fee revenues each year, but the last four or five years revenues have exceeded that, Hailey said. This year, the rental revenue budget has been upped to $60,000, and combined with fee increases, that should be enough to cover costs and keep Turner Lake open on Saturdays, he said.

The Recreation Commission budget was slashed by more than $129,000 this past budget year and another $95,000 for fiscal year 2011, which begins July 1. Meanwhile, costs of programming are increasing, as the commission has taken on the operation of more facilities, including Denny Dobbs Park and Cousins Gym. The program faces a $154,000 shortfall in funds.

To address that, the commission approved increasing fees to the following:

* Baseball: From $125 to $150 and $130 for each additional child;

* Girls softball: From $125 to $135; and $125 for each additional child;

* Wee League: From $65 to $75;

* Fall baseball: From $75 to $85;

* Football: A fee increase from $125 to $150 and a $140 charge for additional children will go into effect next year.

* Cheerleading: A fee increase from $65 to $75 and a $65 charge for additional children will go into effect next year.

* Basketball: From $85 to $110 with a $100 charge for additional children;

* Basketball training league: From $65 to $75 and $65 for additional children;

* Daily gym rates have increased from $1 to $2 for children ages 8 to 17; from $2 to $3 for adults ages 18 to 54; and from $1 to $2 for seniors 55 and older. A $20 annual pass available at Newton Senior Services will still be honored.

* Gym rental fees at Turner Lake and Conyers Street Gym will increase from $35 to $50 for the first hour and $40 for each additional hour. Non-residents will pay $75 for the first hour and $65 for each additional hour.

* Rental of the pavilion at Turner Lake Complex will increase from $150 per day to $175. The same fee will apply to the pavilion at Denny Dobbs Park once it opens.

The commission also eliminated the position of recreation program manager -- which carried a salary of $44,364, including benefits -- a job that has not been occupied since last August.

In other news, the commission also approved a contract with Washington Street Community Center to be in charge of programming at the new Nelson Heights Community Center.

County commissioners have allocated $64,000 for the center that will be used to fund operations for the next two years. Washington Street will submit monthly expenses for reimbursement, according to Washington Street Director Bea Jackson. The Recreation Commission will be responsible for building and yard maintenance.

An after-school homework tutorial program will launch this fall, and Jackson said the plan is to slowly offer other enrichment programs. The building will also be available for rent for family gatherings, showers and other events.