Bowie bills double up in proposed budget -- Gazette.Net



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Having fun in Bowie may soon get a bit more expensive.

The proposed fiscal 2014 budget includes more than 30 proposed fee increases for city services, including recreational activities.

City staff said the change is aimed at recouping part of the expense of providing the services, not due to a budget deficit.

The city typically tweaks the fees it charges every year after looking at usage, expenses and the rate other neighboring municipalities charge, said David Deutsch, the city manager.

Changes to the fees at the Bowie Ice Arena, for example, are expected to bring in about $21,000 in additional revenue, Robert Patrick, the city’s finance department director, said in an email.

Other fee increases are only expected to bring in a minimal amount of revenue such as doubling the permit fee from $5 to $10, Patrick said.

The cost of renting space at Allen Pond Park may increase $10, with the rental price for pavilions at the park rising to $90 a day. Whitemarsh Park fees may increase $5, with the park’s pavilion cost increasing to $55 per day from 10 a.m. to dusk, according to budget documents.

Additionally, the Bowie Ice Arena could potentially see a wave of fee increases such as admission increasing 50 cents so adults would pay $5.50, seniors and children would pay $5 and the group rate would also rise.

Youth groups such as the Bowie Hockey Club and Bowie High School’s hockey team would have to pay an additional $10 to use the facility, increasing their per hour usage fee to $270 for Bowie-based groups or $295 per hour for non Bowie-based groups, in the proposed budget.

Renting ice is one of the biggest expenses for a hockey program, said Bill Schmidt, coach of the Bowie High School Hockey team and a longtime coach with the Bowie Hockey Club. Schmidt estimates the club, which has about 300 players, spends about $250,000 annually to rent ice arenas in the area, he said.

“It’s expensive to run a hockey program,” he said. “I’m not looking for them to make money but I understand them wanting to break even.”

While some proposed fee increases, such as a proposed doubling of the cost of hosting a block party to $10, would have little impact on his community, Bowie resident Gary Gaskins said he isn’t a fan of raising fees in a weak economy.

“If it’s necessary, OK, but obviously nobody wants to see the price of things go up,” said Gaskins, the former president of the 78-home Allen Pond Townhouses Homeowner Association, which is near Allen Pond Park.

The Bowie City Council is scheduled to vote on the proposed $59.1 million budget on May 20, and council members made no moves to change the proposed fee increases during a budget work session held April 22.

“I think for the most part they’re reasonable,” said City Councilman Todd Turner (At-large). “I haven’t seen any information that would say the minor increases in fees we’re going to have is going to have an impact on usage.”

amccombs@gazette.net