Coun­cil ap­proves the 2018-20 rates for Swift Cur­rent fa­cil­i­ties

Prairie Post (East Edition) - - Swift Current - BY MATTHEW LIEBEN­BERG— mlieben­[email protected]­

The rates for us­ing City of Swift Cur­rent Com­mu­nity Ser­vices fa­cil­i­ties will change in the fall af­ter the com­ple­tion of a rate re­view.

The up­dated fa­cil­ity rates were ap­proved at a reg­u­lar coun­cil meet­ing, July 16. The re­vised rates will be in ef­fect from Sept. 1, 2018 to Aug. 31, 2020.

Ni­cole Spenst from the City's Com­mu­nity Ser­vices Divi­sion pro­vided de­tails about the fa­cil­ity rate re­view dur­ing the meet­ing.

“Rates are re­viewed and as­sessed for the City of Swift Cur­rent's Com­mu­nity Ser­vices fa­cil­i­ties ev­ery two years,” she said.

These fa­cil­i­ties can be di­vided into min­i­mal or non­rev­enue gen­er­at­ing gen­er­at­ing fa­cil­i­ties and rev­enue gen­er­at­ing fa­cil­i­ties.

“His­tor­i­cally, coun­cil has di­rected the rev­enue gen­er­at­ing fa­cil­i­ties to re­cover 40 per cent of over­all to­tal fa­cil­ity op­er­at­ing costs,” she men­tioned.

The City's min­i­mal or non-rev­enue gen­er­at­ing fa­cil­i­ties in­clude ball di­a­monds, ten­nis courts, out­door rinks, soc­cer pitches, beach vol­ley­ball courts and park rentals.

Other fa­cil­i­ties are gen­er­at­ing more rev­enue through user fees. The main rev­enue gen­er­at­ing fa­cil­i­ties in­clude the In­no­va­tion Credit Union i-plex, the Aquatic Cen­tre and Fairview pool, the Fairview Arena, Lt. Colonel Clifton Cen­tre and Ki­netic Ex­hi­bi­tion Park.

“The user fees off­set the op­er­a­tional ex­penses of the fa­cil­ity,” she said. “The com­bined fees of the rev­enue gen­er­at­ing fa­cil­i­ties also re­duces the op­er­a­tional ex­penses of the min­i­mal or non-rev­enue gen­er­at­ing fa­cil­i­ties, which have op­er­a­tional ex­penses but re­ceive lim­ited rev­enues. The rev­enue gen­er­at­ing fa­cil­i­ties also re­duce the over­all costs of op­er­at­ing the en­tire Com­mu­nity Ser­vices Divi­sion.”

Spenst noted that the Com­mu­nity Ser­vices Divi­sion re­cov­ered 40 per cent of over­all op­er­at­ing costs in 2017 and for 2018 the bud­get goal is to re­cover 42 per cent of costs.

The Com­mu­nity Ser­vices Divi­sion spends a sig­nif­i­cant amount of time to es­tab­lish and mon­i­tor fa­cil­ity rates, while also cal­cu­lat­ing fu­ture op­er­a­tional ex­penses and rev­enue tar­gets to achieve re­cov­ery rates.

“All rates are not au­to­mat­i­cally in­creased by the same per­cent­age,” she said. “Each rate for each fa­cil­ity is re­viewed and some in­crease, some re­main the same, and a few go down to meet the mar­ket. Upon re­view­ing the mar­ket and the fa­cil­ity us­ages for the past two years, there are some rates that we are hold­ing con­stant in hopes to drive more pa­trons to uti­lize the ser­vices to in­crease the rev­enue.”

The new fa­cil­ity rates for Septem­ber 2018 to Au­gust 2020 will in­clude an in­crease in ice rental rates at the In­no­va­tion Credit Union i-plex and Fairview Arena.

“The in­door skat­ing are­nas need the in­crease to cover the in­creased op­er­a­tional ex­penses,” she said. “Our arena rates are one of the low­est in the prov­ince for sim­i­lar sized cities.”

The ice rental rates for mi­nor groups dur­ing prime time (3:30 p.m. – 11 p.m.) is cur­rently $99 per hour. It will in­crease to $106 per hour in 2018/19 and to $111 per hour in 2019/20. The rental rates out­side prime time (6 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.) will in­crease from the cur­rent $54 per hour to $58 per hour in 2018/19 and to $61 per hour in 2019/20.

Ac­cord­ing to Spenst the ad­mis­sion rates at the City's aquatic fa­cil­i­ties are al­ready at the “high end of the mar­ket” and for the next two years the daily ad­mis­sion fee will re­main the same while there will be a slight in­crease in the rates for dif­fer­ent passes.

Coun­cil­lor Bruce Deg felt it is im­por­tant to keep a bal­ance be­tween cost re­cov­ery and keep­ing it af­ford­able for res­i­dents to use the fa­cil­i­ties.

“I per­son­ally ap­pre­ci­ate the fact that we have a min­i­mal cost re­cov­ery com­pared to some other ju­ris­dic­tions,” he said. “Forty-ish per cent to 45 per cent makes our fa­cil­i­ties af­ford­able for our com­mu­nity mem­bers and I feel that's im­por­tant, con­sid­er­ing the di­ver­sity of our com­mu­nity.”

Ac­cord­ing to Coun­cil­lor Ryan Plewis the ques­tion fac­ing the City in con­sid­er­ing fa­cil­ity rates is how much of the cost is funded through tax­a­tion and how much is funded through the peo­ple who ac­tu­ally use those fa­cil­i­ties. The big chal­lenge is to achieve a bal­ance be­tween cost re­cov­ery and af­ford­abil­ity. He added that not all users are nec­es­sar­ily tax­pay­ers in Swift Cur­rent.

“I would like to see some more con­tri­bu­tion from some of the peo­ple that sur­round us, from the R.M.'s and towns,” he said. “In Saskatchew­an that's a very com­mon­place way to do things, for ex­am­ple in Este­van and Wey­burn the R.M.'s right around those com­mu­ni­ties pay grants to the City to help op­er­ate those fa­cil­i­ties and we have a very lim­ited amount of that in our area, which is some­thing we con­tinue to talk about with our friends in the R.M. as well. It's some­thing to keep in mind and it's some­thing we will con­tinue to talk about and some­thing that I just want peo­ple and the pub­lic to know that we are think­ing about.”

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