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Casper Recreation

Golfers take advantage of a warm spring afternoon for a round at the Casper Municipal Golf Course last week. The course fully opened for the season on April 10. The Casper City Council recently set goals for its recreational facilities to help earn back more money to reduce dependence on city funds.

Casper’s parks and recreational facilities are exploring new ways to raise money as city leaders consider setting cost recovery goals for each center.

The city could save approximately $120,000 annually from its general fund if all the proposed goals were met, Parks and Recreation Director Tim Cortez told the Casper City Council at Tuesday’s work session.

City staff is suggesting the following cost recovery targets: 20 percent for Fort Caspar Museum, 50 percent for the Casper Recreation Center, 58 percent for the aquatic center, 60 percent for the Hogadon Basin Ski Area, 65 percent for the Casper Ice Arena and 110 percent for the Casper Municipal Golf Course.

The facilities’ managers should also be permitted to change fees and rates without the Council’s permission, said Cortez. This could help each center meet its assigned goal.

Councilmen Michael Huber and Jesse Morgan both asked about the extent that fees could potentially rise but Cortez could not provide exact figures.

The facilities are exploring other ways to increase revenue and won’t necessarily even be raising fees, he explained.

“We aren’t looking to fee our way out,” he said, adding that some managers might find it more beneficial to reduce rates to bring in bigger crowds.

The Council won’t be voting on the matter until Tuesday, but council members appeared receptive to the ideas.

Explaining that he trusted the on-site managers to make knowledgeable decisions, Vice Mayor Charlie Powell was especially supportive.

“I don’t want to micromanage… I say let’s give them a shot at it,” he said.

Recreation Superintendent Carolyn Griffith said Wednesday that Parks and Recreation employees are aware of the recommendations.

“All of the facility managers feel that this is reasonable,” she said.

The Casper Municipal Golf Course has an average cost recovery rate of 103 percent but will be focusing on marketing efforts in order to hit the proposed target, according to Gary Marsh, the director of golf.

Having the authority to alter rates could also help, he said. Lowering the cost on cold or windy days might encourage more people to play.

But other factors are out of management’s hands.

“We have no control over the weather,” he said, adding that the 110-percent target would be unrealistic during rough spring seasons.

Cortez said Wednesday that there would be no penalties for facilities that are unable to reach the set goals.

“You aren’t going to see anything draconian out of this,” he said, explaining that the targets are only intended to encourage managers to find creative ways to raise revenue or reduce spending.

City staff has been working in recent months to reduce the burden on the general fund. Napier previously said that the city needs to decrease expenditures in order to reduce its reliance on state funding.

The amount of direct distribution funding provided to local governments wildly fluctuates. The state Legislature has doled out under $100 million in tight times or as high as $175 million when the economy is strong.

“My goal for the operations of the city is that we do not depend on one-time revenue for operations of the city government,” Napier previously stated.

Katie King covers the city of Casper.

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Local Government Reporter

Katie King joined the Star-Tribune in 2017 and primarily covers issues related to local government. She previously worked as a crime reporter in the British Virgin Islands. Originally from Virginia, Katie is a graduate of James Madison University.

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