City to raise fees for pool use, renting its facilities

Increases to help cover recreation budget cuts

May 27, 1999|By Gerard Shields | Gerard Shields,SUN STAFF

The cost of swimming in Baltimore pools this summer, renting city facilities and playing in city basketball leagues will increase to help cover $2.9 million in budget cuts to the city recreation department.

The increases is expected to bring an additional $60,000 to city coffers and are considered the first of many budget actions to affect residents as the city wrestles with a $153 million deficit over the next four years.

Among the increases approved by the city Board of Estimates yesterday are:

An increase from 75 cents to $1 for admission to neighborhood pools and a rise of $1 to $1.50 for park pools. Season passes for the walk-to pools will increase from $5 to $10. Park pool season passes will jump from $15 to $25. The fee increase will bring in $31,000 more to the city.

A rental fee increase for the Druid Hill Park and Callowhill Indoor pools. The Druid Hill Park rental fee will rise $400 to $1,000 while Callowhill renters will pay $800, a $300 jump. The increase will bring in $9,200 extra.

A doubling of city site rental fees that ranges from $250 to $800 for New Year's Eve and New Year's Day activities. The increase will bring the cost of using city-owned sites in line with private halls and caterers.

A fee increase for player identification cards for youth and adult sports from $3 to $5, bringing in an additional $4,000.

Increases in league team fees. Baltimore neighborhood basketball league teams must pay $100, a $25 increase. Fall and winter adult recreation league sports teams will pay $400, a $50 increase. Fall and winter youth basketball leagues will pay $125, up from $100.

Cleveland Brister, an assistant director with the city's Parks and Recreation Department, told the five-member estimates board that the increases were the result of Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke's proposed budget cuts.

"They hit us, somebody's got to take the hit," Brister told the board. "There is no way to continue without some sort of raise."

During the past three years, the recreation department has closed 18 centers to accommodate $15 million in cuts.

Much of the youth recreation efforts in the city have been taken over by Police Athletic Leagues.

Schmoke, who will be stepping down in December after 12 years, told Brister that the recreation department needs to find a way to generate its own revenue, instead of relying on general city tax funds.

"Every time the general fund gets a cut, you take a hit," Schmoke said.

The City Council has introduced a bill that would charge a $1 tax on sporting events at Camden Yards and PSINet Stadium. Money generated from the tax would amount to $5.3 million a year and could be added to the proposed $17.9 million Parks and Recreation budget.

The chief hurdle will be getting support from the state legislature for the tax, Schmoke said.

Pub Date: 5/27/99

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