5 months ago on 03/29/2017 at 3:45 PM
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Why is the Park District so worried about protecting our tax dollars from outsiders—especially at a time when they are actively shifting the financial burden of running a park district onto the users through fees in Park Ridge? It would seem that if the mission of Thillens and Biagi and the rest of the folks at the park district is to shift the financial burden to users through fees rather than taxes then wouldn't they want to open up the programming to more people? More people would mean more profits and then the price of programming would go down. And requiring birth certificates as proof of residency for minors is way over stepping.

18 Comments:

5 months ago on 03/29/2017 at 3:52 PM

You are aware there is a seven (not two) member Park Board, correct?

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5 months ago on 03/29/2017 at 4:19 PM

My daughter applied for swim lessons and was told we would need to show a birth certificate. Why, I don't know since that document doesn't have any relation to residency.

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5 months ago on 03/29/2017 at 5:03 PM

1. Everyone is shifting more and more to fees. Banks, airlines, ALL governments. The PRPD is hardlly unique. It's either that or raise taxes on everyone whether they participate in the program or not. I'd prefer fees. And 2. I'd bet the PD staff could give us a dozen wild stories about residency abuses and why they need birth certificates. What do other suburbs do?

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5 months ago on 03/29/2017 at 5:06 PM

Chris, if you don't use the park district then of course you want to shift to fee based funding but when people leave the park district over fees then you have no park district and that effects your property values

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5 months ago on 03/29/2017 at 5:10 PM

I'd wager the majority of residents do not sign up for PD programs, but everyone pays property taxes. Raise property taxes and people raise holy hell. Membership associations do the same thing to avoid having to increase dues. This is a sensible approach.

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5 months ago on 03/29/2017 at 5:13 PM

It is not a sensible approach if you want to fund the park district with unaffordable fees. It is unsustainable. It is literally going to kill the park district. People are leaving the park district for other communities with more affordable programs. Those communities are getting revenue that should stay here in park ridge. You have taxpayers that are paying for something they can not use.

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5 months ago on 03/29/2017 at 5:15 PM

I find it financially odd that PRPD classes for residents cost about the same as for profit private places. So someone else can rent a building, pay employees, turn a profit on an overall lower cost, considering PD is subsidized. Seems mismanaged.

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5 months ago on 03/29/2017 at 5:29 PM

I’ve debated about posting a response since nothing I say will ever be taken seriously by the administrator of this page, but here goes. The Park District, for years (since long before I was on the Board), has set the price of programs based on two factors – 1) the actual cost to run the programs (i. e., instructor salary, class materials, overhead expenses for the facility in which the program takes place, etc. ), and 2) a regular comparison of nearby public and private facilities offering similar programs. I’ve seen the data that the staff religiously collects, with my own eyes and I have seen how it factors into the staff’s decision to price a program. The notion that staff is setting prices based on an arbitrary number in the hope that doing so will maximize program fee revenue is both hogwash and irresponsible to even suggest. The reason that the Park District now receives approximately 54% of its revenue from fees (and roughly 42% from taxes) is because of the incredibly high participation rate in the various programs offered by the District – the highest it has been in my eight years on the Board. (The facts bear this out – the Board receives monthly reports on participation and it is at all time highs – certainly one could cherry pick a particular class that has gone down in attendance, but in the aggregate, the participation numbers are the best they have ever been. ) I attribute this to the fantastic job that staff has done to provide programs that the public wants and their ability and agility to modify or cancel class offerings when they see participation drop-off. Make no mistake – this success is 100% attributable to the great staff at the Park District – the Board never makes decisions on specific programming or fees (at least since I’ve been on the Board) – those decisions are operational in nature and are set by staff (and typically ratified, as a whole, by the Board during the annual budget process).

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5 months ago on 03/29/2017 at 5:41 PM

Then why do so many programs like 7-year old basketball and dance classes get cancelled? Because we can get them cheaper on other communities. I just paid $75 for a week long basketball camp that is almost $200 at the park ridge park district.

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5 months ago on 03/29/2017 at 5:52 PM

A lot of classes I sign up for get cancelled for low enrollment!

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5 months ago on 03/29/2017 at 6:13 PM

Kathy. You are very passionate on the topic since I see you post on this topic on several boards and many posts. Why don't you run next time?

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5 months ago on 03/29/2017 at 6:19 PM

I personally don't think most classes are that expensive, but we're a two income household. But I'm selective. If the cost of yoga is the same as going to a professional studio with someone 300 or 500 hour certified, I'll go to the studio because I'm paying for expertise. But I'd gladly do the opposite if the expert was at the community center. What I'd like to see is more sections of popular camps -- legos, cooking, etc. If it fills on the first day you can register, there's demand. But I've been told the issue is staffing. Is that an issue of hours, pay scale, or something else?

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5 months ago on 03/29/2017 at 7:01 PM

I guess I don't see the problem here. If attendance is up, then by Kathy's example our taxes would be lower because the Park District is making more money and therefore less reliant on tax dollars. If the fees are a problem (which I don't think they are) then people wouldn't sign up. but it appears they are. If anything id say if demand is up, create more classes with larger enrollment and then lower fees. Can I just ask why isn't this same standard applied to our school board? Is it because the "fees" are in our taxes? Our spend per pupil is higher than the vast majority of our neighbors, but our quality of education is the same by any standard I can find. Why wouldn't you apply the same logic there and say we should reign in spending so our schools are more affordable and more comparable to similar performing neighborhood schools? Just food for thought because I know on the flip side the same people being hounded for taking in too much revenue on the Park Board are the same ones being scolded for not wanting to blindly take in more revenue (raise taxes) on the school board.

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5 months ago on 03/29/2017 at 7:56 PM

Seems to me there's a lot of cherry picking going on. How many parks and playgrounds do we have that generate zero in fees? The community center is WAY cheaper than private club memberships like FFC, etc. Resident pool passes are a great deal if you use them. Private summer camps in the area are often $250/week or more.

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5 months ago on 03/30/2017 at 8:18 AM

I guess like Kathy, I do not understand Rick Biagi why fees for programs are set to cover overhead, and why you are using private - and presumably for-profit programs for your price-point comparison. Is that pricing data on the site? I think it also raises questions about how actual tax dollars are being used, if not to provide services. And respectfully, no one has answered the question yet of why we let an RFP go out for a new data system that did not include data scrubbing and migration. I have asked your staff the same, but you can feel free to respond. As always, appreciate your engagement Rick!

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5 months ago on 03/30/2017 at 9:05 AM

I'm so confused by this post. Are you saying you don't want the Park District to verify residency and all non residents can get resident rates? This isn't about if you think the price is fair, it's about enforcing the residency rates. I feel like if they didn't do it the post would argue they should be doing something. Let's try to see the good in what they are trying to do. I'm sure their objective was not to cause more work for residence. Maybe a pain for the first time you have to register but in the long run it seems like the right thing.

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5 months ago on 03/30/2017 at 9:31 AM

Kathy, your Facebook profile says you live in Chicago? Do you?

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5 months ago on 03/30/2017 at 12:18 PM

Kathy Meade, i saw that there is a Centennial Activities Center year long membership on the Labor of Love auction site - earlier today bidding was at $95 for the year! might be worth looking into.

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