Rec & Park forced to raise fees

City agency struggling with budget deficit

City taxpayers and tourists will have to pay more to play golf or visit Coit Tower and the Japanese Tea Garden because the City Recreation and Park Department has to once again hike fees to help close its budget gap.

The fee increases come as the recreation department continues to struggle to balance its books and turn a profit at two city-owned golf courses. Also, the department was asked to cut $1 million from its budget, and it faces an estimated $700,000 in additional operating costs this year, according to Rose Dennis, spokeswoman for the department.

For the second year, fees are increasing to play golf in The City. Fees at the City’s Harding Golf Course will increase by as much as $33. On the average, fees are going up $10. A nonresident who wants to play golf at twilight will pay $135, not the current fee of $118. For residents who are seniors, it will no longer be $48 to play a round of links on the weekend, but $59.

At the Fleming Golf Course fees are also going up. For example, weekday play would jump from $17 for residents to $20, and from $22 for nonresidents to $25.

It may also be more difficult for residents to get tee times. In the past, 65 percent of the rounds of golf had to come from residents. The proposal is to lower this percentage to 50 percent.

“We’re tweaking things that impact residents and tourists alike,” Dennis said, adding, “If we don’t increase revenue it will lead to service reductions.”

Coit Tower visitors are going to have to pay $4.50, up from $3.75. Also,it will cost $.50 cents more, for a total of $4, to visit the Japanese Tea Garden. Dennis said fees for both the tower and the garden have not been raised since 1998.

Other fee increases include parking at Kezar Stadium, which will increase by as much as $2 an hour, and monthly rates by as much as $10.

Even seniors will have to pay more to go camping. Camp Mather Senior Camp fees will charge nonresidents $58 more a week, and residents $45 more.

The department will have to do without one fee increase. A Board of Supervisors committee killed a proposal to start charging children under 12-years-old $.75 cents to ride the Golden Gate Carousel. This would have generated an additional $8,000, according to the department

The Board of Supervisors is expected to vote Tuesday on these fee increases proposed by the Recreation and Park Department. The fees will go into effect following a July 25 board vote on Mayor Gavin Newsom’s $5.7 billion budget for fiscal year 2006-07.

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