Port Townsend fees may increase for Mountain View pool use, development permits

Budget discussions return to council in October

PORT TOWNSEND — Increased fees at Mountain View pool and an adjustment to the hourly rate for development services fees are two options the Port Townsend City Council will examine as it prepares for 2020 budget discussions.

Council members conducted a workshop Monday night to review the upcoming budget calendar and to hear proposals for new fee schedules.

Most will come back to council for consideration in October and, if approved, will become effective Jan. 1, interim City Manager Nora Mitchell said.

The greatest impact discussed Monday would come in the multi-month swimming passes at the pool as the city attempts to recover half of its costs through services and special programs, as required by its 2016 financial policy.

It has been down to 39 percent when overhead is factored in, Mayor Deborah Stinson said.

Alex Wisniewski, the city’s director of parks, recreation and community services, said revenues at the pool have increased since 2017, but expenses also have gone up, mostly due to labor.

With state minimum wage increasing from $12 per hour to $13.50 per hour next year, “Planning for that ahead of time only made sense,” he said.

Most fees at the pool are projected to go up between $5 and $15 each, including private swimming lessons, the home-school swim group and each level of club swimming, Wisniewski said.

However, the months-long passes are projected to jump from $275 to $325 for a six-month general swim pass for a single adult or senior, and from $400 to $500 for a six-month general swim pass for a family, according to city documents.

The 12-month general swim passes might have a $100 increase, from $500 to $600 for a single adult or senior, and from $750 to $850 for a family, the documents stated.

“What you have before you is an update to the same cost-recovery model and fees associated that was presented to you in 2017,” Wisniewski told the council. “We plugged in the new expense costs that we have for our programs, and we’re going to do an evaluation of where we’re at and take a look at where we may need to make some adjustments.”

The proposed fee schedule is dated April 21 and includes items for programs, rentals and the use passes. It also eliminates the single-month general swim pass for a single adult or senior, a feature Wisniewski said isn’t being used.

“There has been some priming of pool users at the staff level down at the pool,” he said. “I think everyone kind of expects this to happen every two or three years given how expenses are on the rise.

“We haven’t had any formal complaints or pushback at this point, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen.”

Development Services Director Lance Bailey told the council his department’s rates haven’t been adjusted since 2014. He used the Consumer Price Index (CPI) the city employs for calculating cost of living adjustments to arrive at a proposed 9.2 percent increase.

That would raise the hourly rate for residents’ use of the city service from $76 per hour to $83 per hour, Bailey said. In turn, it would raise associated permit costs.

“We get money from the general fund, so that’s been the philosophy the city has had,” Bailey said. “Everyone in the city benefits from what we do.”

The proposal also looks to add an annual increase based on CPI, he said.

New fees would be added for flood development permits and habitat assessments, projects that have come from the city’s work to update its floodplain areas based on Federal Emergency Management Agency maps.

“We have been doing these permits with no fees,” Bailey said. “We would like to be able to charge for them.”

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Jefferson County Managing Editor Brian McLean can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 6, or at [email protected].

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