City looks at program-fee changes

Bentonville proposal calls for nonresidents to pay more

Posted: June 20, 2018 at 2:47 a.m.

FILE PHOTO The Bentonville City Hall.

BENTONVILLE -- Under a new plan presented to the City Council, people from outside the city who want to participate in Bentonville Parks and Recreation programs would pay more next year than residents do.

The change is aimed at recovering $155,000 annually spent on maintenance and operations to accommodate nonresidents who use the services funded by Bentonville taxpayers, according to city officials.

Under the plan, fees for nonresidents would be an additional $25 for any program in which the registration fee is $75 or less and an additional $40 for any program in which the registration fee is $75.01 or more.

"It's a recognizable difference, but we're not trying to make it punitive," David Wright, parks and recreation director, told the City Council.

Wright and council members have for more than two years been discussing the possibility of increasing fees for those who live outside city limits.

He and the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board examined the possibility after the completion of the department's master plan, including looking at how many program participants lived outside Bentonville.

For instance, the youth soccer program has more than 4,200 players and 2,500, or about 60 percent, are Bentonville residents, meaning 40 percent live outside the city, Wright said.

He used the soccer program to illustrate how officials calculated the $155,000.

There are 11 full-size fields at Memorial Park and another three at Citizens Park, but they can be configured to fit many more youth games. Twenty games could be going on at once at Memorial Park and 18 at Citizens Park, according to Wright.

Smaller fields for the younger soccer players are created within the larger fields, he said. Not all of the full-size fields would be needed if the program served only Bentonville residents.

However, parks employees line all the fields regularly, check the fields for potential dangers like divots and make sure all the goal nets are staked into the ground.

"There's a daily maintenance that takes place on every one of those fields because we're serving more than just our residents in that program," Wright said.

Wright said maintenance that would be done regardless, such as mowing, wasn't included in the $155,000.

And that's just one program, Wright said, adding that similar calculations were done for other programs.

The Parks and Recreation Advisory Board also wanted to examine the admission and membership fees for the community center, Wright said. The membership base is about 40 percent nonresidents, he said.

Metro on 06/20/2018