Trial run on fees is a good move

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  • Thursday, February 28, 2008 9:10am

One thing Mill Creek’s civic boosters are proud of is the civility with which city government operates. More often than not, city hall functions with an openness that is refreshing in an age of cynicism toward government, and most issues that come before the City Council are rarely controversial.

One example, of a controversial local issue, albeit a small one, was the question of what the field rental rates should be for the new Mill Creek Sports Park. One reason these fees became controversial was a concern that they might not be high enough to help the park not only pay for itself, but also provide adequate revenues to eventually replace the artificial playing surface.

The question of what to set the fees at was made tougher because all revenue projections were just that: guesses. No one knows how much the park will be used by paying groups. No one honestly knows how much money will come into the park.

Therefore, the city’s decision to give the current fee schedule a run of one season each for Little League and soccer and then review them, and adjust them accordingly, is a great move. It is also a policy the city should do annually with the sports park.

Although there were protests from Council members that the fees for youth sport organizations and field lighting were too low, giving the rates a trial run make sense. It allows the city to come back to council next summer with hard figures on park use, and whether the fees are bringing in adequate revenue to cover the park’s expenses. Then, fees can be adjusted accordingly, or not at all, if revenues are adequate.

The last thing the Council should have done was set fees too high, using the premise that the field will be used regardless of what is charged for use. Such a move would generate ill feelings among the Silver Lake Soccer Club and Mill Creek Little League, most likely the park’s primary users.

Giving the sports park fees a trial run is good common sense.

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