County CSD Director Cory Styron
By KIRSTEN LASKEY
Los Alamos Daily Post
After 20 years of following the same policy for rental and admission fees at Los Alamos County-owned facilities and lands, the Community Services Department (CSD) has implemented some changes.
Council approved the changes during its regular meeting Aug. 31.
Community Services Department Director Cory Styron told the Los Alamos Daily Post during an interview Sept. 3 that most changes will go into effect Oct. 1. However, the Los Alamos County Golf Course’s new fees will not be changed until next spring and the fees for the North Mesa stables will not be in effect until they are up for renewal next year.
As far as admission fees, Styron said the increase is minimal for most of the facilities. He added that after meeting with individual divisions in the Community Services Department and getting a list of fees and charges it was discovered that there were some old fees, and some were for services that don’t exist anymore.
Styron further pointed out that the new capital improvement projects at several facilities including Los Alamos County Golf Course and the Los Alamos County Ice Rink were not an influence on the new pricing. However, the Leisure Lagoon was fitted into the pricing matrix at the aquatic center; he said it could be rented out.
Other aspects of the County’s rental policy were adjusted, too. For instance, Senior Management Analyst Katherine Hudspeth said originally the only way to rent Ashley Pond Park was to pay for the entire park. Now, in addition to renting the entire park people can rent different sections including the stage area, the west side of the park, which is near the Justice Center, and the north side, which runs along Central Avenue.
Another highlighted change addresses RV storage. It was modified from one flat rate to three separate rates. These are for: small (12 feet by 25 feet), medium (12 feet by 30 feet) and large (12 feet by 50 feet). The rate is $1.50 per square foot.
Hudspeth said there is one place to store RVs on County-owned land, which is on North Mesa.
It was recognized that the change may be a burden to some renters so Styron said those who use larger lots will have the opportunity to pay in installments.
“We’re trying to minimize that shock and challenge that people may have seen,” he said.
To get the word out about the changes, Styron said, “We’ve been sending emails to affected user groups since Wednesday (and) we are in the process of changing the fees schedule on the website, and then a lot of users knew about it because they were involved in conversations when we were (discussing) doing this.”
There were several reasons behind the price changes, Styron said.
One of those reasons is the previous policy wasn’t very business friendly, he said.
Whereas the newly adopted one “is a great opportunity for entrepreneurs to take a risk for a small, mobile business and other assets in the community … not only for economic development but to add some additional panache and flair to the community,” Styron said. “Or to identify an opportunity to bring in a new business to enhance a venue during an event or just normal day operations.”
For instance, he noted someone who is taking a day trip to Los Alamos might want to utilize some of the County’s bike trails. With the new policy, a bike rental business could be set up at the trail heads.
Plus, market studies were conducted to see how the County’s prices measured up, Hudspeth said.
“We did look at various amounts (charged by) different municipalities … we were able to do market studies for similar and surrounding municipalities but some of the amenities we offer are not offered by other municipalities … we do have to take that into account and make reasonable adjustments to our users and renters of our amenities,” she said.
“I think, first of all, we’re making all our fees current – some of these fees haven’t been looked at in almost 20 years, so one, we are recalibrating those to the market …,” Styron added. “Again, the big one is now (we) provide an avenue for businesses that is complimentary to our activities. And … every year the County sets cost recovery targets for parks, recreation programs, the pool, ice rink and golf course. These adjustments allow us to have a basis to hit those targets as well.”
- Aquatic Center: The overall cost recovery goal is 25 percent of its annual operating budget;
- Ice Rink: The overall cost recovery goal is 50 percent of its annual operating budget;
- Parks: The overall cost recovery goal is 10 percent of annual operating budget;
- Golf Course: The overall cost recovery goal is 55 percent of the annual operating budget; and
- Recreation Programs: The overall cost recovery goal will be 10 percent of the annual operating budgets.
Styron explained the cost recovery goals do not fully pay for the department’s services but offset the gross receipt tax funding the department receives during the budget planning process.
The main reason behind the changes was to update and offer more business-friendly policies, Styron said.
“Our desire here was to really review some stuff that in some cases were 20 plus years old and bring them up to date and bring clarity to users and staff, and as far as businesses, we wanted to drive some fun in our community and enhance this as the place to be,” Styron said.
To find out more, visit the Community Services Department webpage here.