Tuesday, May 6, 2014
The Town of Mount Pleasant funded a Recreation Cost Recovery Study done by Clemson University Department of Parks and Recreation and Tourism Management.
Dr. Bob Brookover and Dr. Bob Barcelona presented their findings Monday.
They conduct many studies such as this around the state. From a community perspective and input provided this was one of their best, Brookover said.
They looked to see of the town was maximizing ways to generate revenue while providing the best services possible.
The answer to both was yes.
Barcelona said that those who came to the input meeting were heavy users of recreation department program and facilities.
There was also a good mix of age ranges. They drew many seniors as well as 36 to 45 age group.
Surveys were also utilized to gather data.
They also looked to see respondents were registered voters. Eighty six percent said they were.
The town was compared to towns such as Cary, North Carolina, North Augusta, Rock Hill and Charleston.
The percent of cost recovery for Mount Pleasant is 33.33 percent. Per capita spending, Mount Pleasant was below the peer group at $66.92 per person.
The town was slightly above the mean for the recreation budget as a percentage of the overall town budget.
When asked their willingness to pay, people at the public input meeting said on average they would pay $414 per person per year.
Passive parks and open space took the top notch for subsidy levels at 50.33 percent. The user should be bearing the costs for programmatic type offerings.
The overall subsidy level was about at 50 percent and the town now subsidizes about 60 percent of what they offer through the recreation department.
Top priorities for investment include athletic fields and sports complexes followed by neighborhood parks and open space.
Fees and charges cam in at about $50 and $89 would be appropriate for youth sports.
Adult pool use for the month came in as reasonable at $30 - $39 a month.
When looking at strategies for saving or replacing the recreation budget, respondents looked at varying options. They were not interested in cutting but in investing and paying additional fees to make up for lost revenue. Nine out of ten said higher fees or additional millage.
However, there was a concern in the focus groups that if pricing structure changed they wanted it to be looked at closely so no socioeconomic situation would eliminate a person from participating.
The focus groups provided lots of suggestions like tournament level sports, trails and connectivity, and new and improved facilities.
The relationship with travel and competitive private sport organizations should be reassessed. Some felt a desire to have these teams brought under the umbrella of the town while others felt they should stay separate.
•Looking at all rental fees on all facilities and costs associated with such
•Factor in maintenance costs when renting fields
There was a clear indication of a desire to invest in maintaining and improving and growing parks and recreation.
From an income perspective, Mount Pleasant is an affluent city. But when you factor in the amount the town have grown and the amount of median household income, the investments in recreation do not look that impressive, the report concluded.
In addition, respondents agreed that recreation infrastructure issues were significant and important they must be addressed and a part of the same conversations being held when budgeting for the fiscal year.
People have chosen to live in Mount Pleasant because of the programs, facilities and services provided by the recreation department the report said.
Strategic investments in recreation infrastructure and assets can stimulate economic growth and development, as well.