6/5/2013 12:42:00 PM Reservations about reservations
The Rice Lake Chronotype
The City Council erred when it approved a system of reserving city park shelters without a fee. That approval came on a 5-3 vote last week. Use of shelters in city parks had been on a first-come first-serve basis and there was no fee for use. The city has seven parks with shelters. Ellen Daniels, the city's new recreation coordinator, sought a new policy allowing shelters in city parks to be reserved. The shelters could be reserved under a sliding-scale fee, with no charge for groups affiliated with the city, and the highest charge for nonresidents wishing to reserve the largest shelter. That charge was $50. Most charges ranged from $10-$30. Daniels told the council she had received numerous calls to reserve shelters. She said income from the fee could help pay for much needed repairs to the shelters. While the council approved a system of reservations, it rejected the idea of fees, primarily because some councilmembers believed that the parks were already supported by tax dollars and a fee was just an additional tax. We normally oppose fees. But in this case fees would have been appropriate. A fee would prevent people from reserving shelters "just in case." If people can reserve a city park shelter without a fee or deposit there's no commitment to use the shelter on the specified date. There needs to be some skin in the game. A system of reserving shelters is a good idea. It allows people to plan for outdoor events in Rice Lake, which will help the city. But in this case the council's single-minded aversion to fees and taxes led to a bad decision.
[The editorials that appear weekly in this space are the views of the newspaper as determined by The Chronotype's editorial board. All editorials are written by one or more members of the board, which consists of Warren Dorrance, Sam Finazzo, Gene Prigge and Eileen Nimm.]