The Sept. 11 Lower Providence Parks and Recreation board spent a majority of its meeting discussing possible revenue-generating programs for the township.
A lengthy discussion was had over details for the potential Banner Sponsorship Program, which would allow certain businesses to advertise on certain fences of township-owned sports fields. Afterward, Karl Lukens, the township’s Parks and Recreation director, suggested an additional idea that wouldn’t affect the tax-paying residents.
“Another revenue-generating idea that came out was charging a non-resident fee to our field users,” Lukens said.
Lukens, who came up with this and the banner sponsorship proposals, explained that the average Lower Providence Township homeowner pays $40 in taxes to the Parks and Recreation Department.
He based the participation fee off of two playing seasons, spring and fall, which would amount to or reflect the $40 residents already pay in taxes:
- Lower Providence Residents: No additional fee
- Methacton School District Member and Non-Resident: These participants would pay $10 per season.
- Non-Mehtacton School District Member and Non-Resident: These participants would pay $20 per season.
Lukens said that revenue-generating programs are essential for the efficiency and continuation of community programming by the township’s Parks and Recreation Department. He said the alternative would be the need to raise taxes.
He further reasoned that such a fee would allow non-residents the opportunity to contribute in the maintenance and usage of township fields, as current residents do through their taxes.
Lukens said that organizations using the fields, such as sports teams, would be responsible for collecting the fees and submitting them to the township.
He said that teams would provide the Parks and Recreation Department team rosters in the pre-seasons, so that they can verify what level of fee needs to be paid from participants on that team.
[What are your thoughts on such a participation fee? ]
The majority of the board members’ initial reactions seemed hesitant in embracing Lukens' proposal.
‘There’s already a participation fee from the school district,” Beth Ann Mazza, vice chair of the board, said.
“There are some kids who can’t play because of the participation costs,” another board member added.
According to the Methacton School District website, students participating in certain extracurricular programming pay a $50 or $75 one-time fee, depending if the student attends the intermediate or high school.
Lukens pointed out that the township also has a right to impose taxes or fees. He added that the Parks and Recreation Department currently asks for similar fees for its other programs, raising the participation cost for non-residents.
Board member Joseph Bergquist brought up whether or not the fee would be worth the logistical efforts put forth by the organizations and teams. Lukens responded that his rough estimates from the most recent participating organizations may yield $10,000 - $20,000 in revenue. Such organizations include the Audubon Recreation Association.
“These are not schools, these are little organizations that are trying to hold on themselves,” George Ozorowski, board member, said.
Ozorowski suggested that the Parks and Recreation Department first talk with the organizations for their reaction to the proposed fee.
Ozorowski also brought up the point on the reaction by other townships. He questioned should Lower Providence enact such a fee, would the other townships respond with participation fees of their own?