At the July 20 Eureka Board of Commissioners meeting, recommendations were proposed to raise fees on some county facilities by budget director Mike Mears.
The Eureka Opera House, senior centers, fairgrounds, landfill and ball fields were all apart of discussions that are being examined by the county to increase fees as revenues are in decline.
Mears said most fees being looked at have never been adjusted in over three decades.
Mears said in the past there was little concern about whether fees covered services since sufficient revenues existed.
“Those revenues aren’t there any more and so we have to have some hard conversations about what we do with our revenue picture and that’s why we’re having these fees discussions and the potential of making some adjustments.”
He noted they are not trying to make the fees cover operations because to cover costs the fees would be “exorbitant.” Mears said the fees do contribute to covering the cost of services and noted every department is reviewing fees charged to advise movements that make sense.
At the last county commission meeting, Andrea Rossman and Mears put together a proposal for the opera house based on current fees and what other facilities in the vicinity charge for similar facilities. Rossman provided a spread sheet of the past six years showing monthly revenues for the Opera House as well as a couple of spreadsheets showing what types of events were taking place.
Mears said, “You can see in 2010, the Opera House brought in a little over $9,000 in revenues from fees charged; 2011 it was similar: right around $9,000. That trend is consistent until 2014 when the Opera House brought in roughly $12,000 largely driven by meetings taking place that have dropped off again. The proposal for the increase is essentially mostly doubling the rental of the facility so using simple math there would be twice as much revenue based on the average which “helps if nothing else pay the cost of the casual employee you approved at the last meeting.”
The fees proposed: $110 for the Grand Hall for a half day, and $220 for the full day; $50 for a half day and $100 for a full day for the downstairs meeting room; Opera House kitchen rental, $200 for day; bar rental would remain at $50. For non-profits, the Grand Hall fee goes to $50 a day; the Meeting Room to $50/day; Kitchen, $100/day and the bar $50/day with the County and School District still allowed to use facilities at no cost. The Commission approved the changes for the Opera House.
Then they turned to fees for the Senior Center which is used primarily for senior functions with a cost of $50 to use the dining room and $100 if one uses the kitchen and dining room. When it is rented, no staff has to be present. Mears made no recommendation to adjust the Senior Center fees.
County Commission chairman J.J. Goicoechea noted that if a move of events is seen from the Opera House to the Senior Center they’ll have to reconsider the Senior Center fees.