City Manager's Blog

The City Manager's Blog is an online educational tool to provide general information to the community in open communication style. Periodically, the City Manager will post articles of general interest covering topics such as the Town's budget, budget process, capital projects, upcoming meetings, community issues, public safety, and general Town operations.

Articles in the blog are not designed as press releases or Town publications, rather, they are written in more of a conversational style. The Blog does not have a comments feature but readers are free to respond to the Blog and its entries view email directly to the City Manager.

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Aug 01

Park Facilities and Rental Fees

Posted on August 1, 2018 at 1:50 PM by grodericks grodericks

FountainHolbrook-Palmer Park is the Town’s only recreation site. The Park is an active and passive use Park set in a lovely 22-acre garden setting with indoor and outdoor facilities that include a ball field, tennis courts, a playground, event garden(s) and walking paths. In addition, there are three facilities that are available for rental - the Main House, the Jennings Pavilion, and the Carriage House. The Park also has a couple of picnic and outdoor spaces available for day-use rental. 

The Main House is a classically designed home which consists of a 700 square foot meeting room with a fireplace, two smaller rooms for breakout sessions or small conferences and a fully equipped kitchen. The Main House is adjacent to an outdoor patio and the Park’s Event Garden.

PavilionThe Jennings Pavilion was constructed at the Park to accommodate larger groups for weddings, receptions, dinners, meetings and lectures. A large kitchen with a commercial refrigerator and two ovens and commercial gas range enables caterers to serve quickly and efficiently. There is also a large adjoining patio often used for receptions and shared outdoor rooms. The Pavilion is also located adjacent to the Event Garden. 

CHThe Carriage House is a point of interest for visitors. The Carriage House was built to replace the original barn destroyed in 1896. The sturdy wood floors, windowpanes, moldings and iron gills in the horse stalls have remained the same for over 100 years. The Carriage House is available for classes, dances, meetings, bridge and workshops. 

More information on the rental of any of these facilities can be found on the Town’s website.

Rentals and Fees

Each year, the Town reviews its various fees for services. In most cases, the Town can only charge the cost to provide the service - inclusive of any overhead and operational cost. The Town conducts a fee study every 4-5 years to ensure that the fees charged are appropriate for cost recovery. As most know, unlike other jurisdictions with both a property tax and a sales tax base from which to draw revenue, the revenue that the Town receives from its primary revenue source, property taxes, is not sufficient to cover the basic operational and capital costs of the Town. The Town charges cost-recovery fees for permits from building, planning and public works; as well as administrative service fees (copies, reports, alarms registration, etc.) for police and administrative services. However, fees for the use of Town facilities do not have to be based on a cost-recovery model and may be set based upon market conditions or other criteria at the discretion of the City Council. The Council may also establish a discount for local residents renting facilities at the Park. Currently, rental groups are charged an administrative fee above the base rental cost of 30%; residents receive a 50% discount off that administrative fee. In Fiscal Year 2017/18, not including sports groups (soccer, tennis, Little League) and instructional rentals (art classes, dance, dog training, etc.), public spaces at the Park were rented by outside groups as venue spaces 207 times. Of that total, 159 were non-resident rentals (77%) and the remaining 48 times (23%) were resident rentals. 

To set the fees for the use of Park facilities, the Parks & Recreation Committee and City Council conduct a review of comparable facility rental fees that are charged by other jurisdictions and evaluate the current uses at the Park as well as priorities for the Park in terms of use, impact, maintenance costs and costs for capital improvement. This was at the subject of a recent Report to the Council in July 2018. The fees themselves will be set at a future public meeting of the CIty Council by Resolution. Through this analysis, the City Council tries to achieve a balance between active and passive uses at the Park. Overuse of the Park and its facilities contribute to their decline as well as inundate the Park with vehicle and event traffic that impacts passive users of the Park. The Town collects market-based fees for the use of venues at the Park as a means of keeping the facilities competitive but not so competitive that they get more use than the City Council feels is acceptable. 

Fees are required for the tennis courts, rental of venue spaces, and day use of field areas for groups of more than 12. These fees not only help balance the active and passive uses at the Park; but also help the Town pay to maintain the facilities. Basic expenditures at the Park are budgeted at approximately $670,000 a year. This includes basic program support and general Park maintenance; but, it does not include any significant capital expenditures for facility upgrades. 

The Town receives revenue from social fees, meeting fees, class fees, weddings, day use permits, and miscellaneous use fees (drones, photo permits, field rental, etc.). These revenues total about $240,000. The Town also receives revenue from Tennis Court use at $47,000 a year. The Town has a lease of space for a child care facility at the Park which provides annual revenue of $78,000. In total, these revenues are approximately $365,000 a year. 

A basic income statement shows that the Park does not raise enough revenue to maintain the grounds and facilities each year and is subsidized by the Town’s General Fund at about $300,000 or more each year. In addition, major Park renovations go beyond the $300,000 and come from the Town’s General Fund Capital Improvement Budget. Subsidization of general public spaces, to include public parks, is typical of most local government budgets; however, most agencies attempt to recover costs to the extent possible through competitive fee structures for use or rental of those spaces. 

For more information about the Town’s Park and/or the Town’s budget, please contact the Town at 650-752-0500.