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Travis Commissioners approve fee increases for county parks

Wednesday, January 15, 2014 by Jimmy Maas

Travis County Commissioners voted Tuesday to raise fees for visitors to Travis County parks, but it is not clear exactly when that hike will happen. Commissioners approved the increase to close a potential budget gap.


This is the first adjustment to any county parks’ fees since 2009 and officials say many of the affected fees weren’t addressed even then.


Only Pct. 1 Commissioner Ron Davis objected to the fee hikes.


“I would like to see no increase on Precinct One Travis County Parks,” said Davis. “We have a lot of poor folks in that area.”


County Judge Sam Biscoe saw it from a different perspective.


Well, as County Judge of Travis County, which includes Precinct One, as well as Four, Three and Two, it seems to me we approve all of them or we approve none of them, said Biscoe. “I don’t know how I’d look the other residents in the face and try to make a justification for excluding Precinct One for this thing.”


Commissioner Davis’ substitute amendment to exclude Precinct One parks from fee increases died for lack of a second.


The initial motion to approve fee increases countywide passed on a vote of three to one. Commissioner Davis voted against it. Pct. 4 Commissioner Margaret Gómez was away during that portion of the meeting.


So how much more will it cost to use some county parks?


For starters, it will now cost $15 per vehicle to visit Hamilton Pool. The reason for the $5 increase is traffic congestion and park ranger staffing on weekends. To go to Hippie Hollow, you’ll have to pay $15, as well, an increase of $3. The county cites a 20 percent increase in law enforcement costs as the reason to alter fees there.


To reserve fields on weekends at Del Valle, East Metro, Moya, Northeast Metro, Southeast Metro and Webberville parks, it will cost you $10 per hour, twice as much as before.


Facility rentals are also going up. Shelter or pavilion rentals at Barkley Meadows, Ben E. Fisher, Del Valle, Moya, Northeast Metro, Southeast Metro and Webberville parks will go up between $10 and $25 more per day depending on size. The basketball court rental at East Metro Park also moves from $75 to $100 a day. There will be a new charge for special events at county parks of $100.


Two new facilities got a fee schedule. Northeast Metro BMX Park visitors will be subject to tiered use fees for weekdays and weekend track access and vehicle parking. County parks officials say this is in line with other BMX-style parks in Texas. The new observatory to open at Reimers Ranch will cost visitors $5.


The county estimates fee increases would provide $299,567 in additional revenue. Start date for the new fees has yet to be specified, but the projected revenue increase is based on starting the increase by spring 2014.

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