Soggy weather hurts recreation revenue |

Soggy weather hurts recreation revenue

Soggy weather is to blame for sagging revenues in the city of South Lake Tahoe’s recreation department quarterly earnings report, said Park Superintendent Steve Weiss.

Weiss said a rainy, cool August is responsible for a 16-percent decrease in attendance at the city’s Campground By the Lake on Rufus Allen Boulevard. From July 1 to Sept. 30 the campground sold 1,123 fewer sites than during the same period in 1998.

“I was in a meeting the other day with other recreation providers and we all agreed that we got killed in August,” he said. “Still, the campground revenues aren’t that far off.”

Down more than 1,100 visitors from last year in the fourth quarter, Weiss said a hike in campground fees – from $16.50 in 1997-’98 to $18 per site in 1998-’99 – helped offset the drop in attendance and ranked earnings just 4 percent below last year’s revenues from the same period.

While earnings at the city’s Bijou Golf Course remained steady at about 14,400 rounds of golf played, Weiss said revenue collected from the boat ramp at El Dorado Beach was down $7,800 from last year’s fourth-quarter report.

“There were two reasons,” he said. “It wasn’t really good weather for boating and the ban on personal watercraft – we don’t have any numbers for that but we saw very few this year at the boat ramp.”

In addition, many of the city’s recreation programs and facilities experienced a similar decrease in revenues.

Recreation Superintendent Judy Crawford reported a decline in fourth-quarter revenues coming from the senior center, sports, aquatics and recreation services when compared to the same quarter last year.

She said the weather was not to blame.

In the case of sports programs, Crawford said a change in the softball league format this year allowed the city to cut costs by employing one umpire at each game instead of two. The city extended the cut in cost to players by reducing league fees by 15 percent, generating less revenue.

Crawford said senior center revenues are down because of a decrease in rental interest of the facility when it’s not in use. Other decreases, however, reflect a lack of interest in programs.

“It ebbs and flows,” Crawford said. “But we’re all balanced out and holding our own.”

While some programs floundered, others flourished.

Participation in teen and youth programs, which included the summer day camp and an after school kids’ club increased significantly.

Up 24 percent from last year, the youth-oriented programs pulled in nearly $28,000 more. Attendance for classes offered by the recreation center also increased by 8 percent.

Although there appears to be a greater decrease than increase in recreation participation in the city programs and facilities, Weiss said the impact can’t be measured until expenses are realized on the annual financial report, expected to be issued sometime next month.

“Expenses are a better indicator. We’ll see the bottom line in the annual report,” he said. “In the last 20 years we’ve always finished in the black and right now I think we may have broken even this year.”

Weiss said the purpose of the city’s recreation program is to provide inexpensive recreational opportunities to the public.

“It’s a tough balancing act to maintain,” he said. “Some programs can’t take an increase (in fees) because the people won’t come.”

According to Weiss, the recreation budget is usually about $1.5 million per year. About two-thirds of that budget is funded through revenues collected in user fees, the other third is subsidized by the city’s general fund.

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