Carbondale rec budget to see adjustments in 2010 | AspenTimes.com

Carbondale rec budget to see adjustments in 2010

John Stroud
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

CARBONDALE – It will cost more for adults to play in Carbondale next year.

Higher fees for adult sports programs such as softball, volleyball and basketball leagues, as well as closure of the town swimming pool and recreation center during some non-peak days and hours, are among the measures to reduce an anticipated $106,175 operating deficit for 2010.

Longer term, Carbondale officials also want to wean recreation spending from the town’s general fund.

Even though the town has a dedicated half-cent sales and use tax to fund recreation programs – which also financed a voter-approved bond issue to build the one-and-a-half-year-old Carbondale Recreation Center – the Recreation Department is still subsidized by the town’s general fund to the tune of about $206,000.

That represents 4 percent of the total 2010 general fund budget, according to Carbondale Town Manager Tom Baker.

“We continue to look for ways to reduce the impact of recreation on the general fund,” he said at a Tuesday night work session to discuss next year’s budget as it relates to recreation.

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However, recreation spending is not likely to be completely independent of general fund dollars until the debt service on the recreation center is reduced, Baker said.

As for next year, Carbondale Recreation Director Jeff Jackel and Recreation Center Director Eric Brendlinger have identified between $30,000 and $35,000 in savings to reduce the operating deficit.

First will be an increase in team fees for adult sports leagues to reflect the true cost to administer those programs, Jackel said.

The department will, however, continue to subsidize youth programs to a reasonable degree, he said.

In addition, all new Recreation Center programs must pay for themselves, and several “operating efficiencies” are being looked at within the center itself, Brendlinger said.

“First, we looked at what we could do short of raising fees and cutting hours,” he said. “Then, we decided it’s not the time to hit [rec center] users with a fee increase.”

Hours of operation, however, can be looked at, Brendlinger said, especially since the rec center is less used during certain periods of time.

In particular, he said rec center use is down after 4 p.m. on Saturdays and on Sundays altogether during the warmer months from May through August when people are typically outside more. For that reason, he recommends that the center be closed during those times.

A summertime Saturday evening closure of the rec center would also open up the opportunity to rent out the facility for private functions during that time, which would bring in more revenue, he said.

Likewise, the town is looking to return to the traditional summer season for the swimming pool, from Memorial Day to Labor Day weekends.

For the past few years, the facility has been open for two extra weeks before and after those holidays for lap swimming and for school physical education programs, requiring the pool to have a lifeguard on duty, Jackel said.

He also recommends eliminating the morning lap swim times on Monday, Wednesday and Friday during the summer as a cost-cutting measure.

jstroud@postindependent.com

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