When the Parks and Recreational Services Department sat down to look at the 2004 budget, it was clear that the economic climate in Steamboat Springs was going to have an impact on adult sports.
"The city manager asked our department to cover the costs of our programs," Recreation Coordinator Susan Petersen said. "In order to do that, we need to pass the true costs of these programs onto the players, which means that the recreational athlete is going to have to pay a little more to play."
Petersen said that in the past, the city of Steamboat has subsidized the cost to run adult programs such as softball, soccer, volleyball, football and basketball. But the new direction of the department is to recover most, if not all, of the administrative costs to run these programs.
After several weeks of crunching numbers, the department will take steps toward that goal in 2004. Fees will increase, but almost all of the programs will be subsidized to some extent in the upcoming year.
"I don't think it's a big deal," Steamboat's Todd Camilletti said. "I think the cost to play is definitely in line with the enjoyment we get out of it."
Camilletti organizes a flag football team in the fall and a basketball team in the winter. He also plays on those teams.
He will need to come up with an extra $35 to play each sport.
Camilletti said his teams would cover the increase by passing it onto a sponsor or passing it onto the players on his team. Either way, he didn't see the cost keeping him from playing basketball or football.
Petersen said the increased fees are less than the Parks and Recreational Services Department initially projected. In the original proposal, teams would have paid from 13 percent to 148 percent more to play.
Petersen said that to print the 2004 City Budget Workbook, she had to come up with individual budgets well in advance of the city's annual meeting. Since then, she has met with City Manager Paul Hughes and many changes were made that did not appear in that workbook.
Out of the department's 35 programs, only 16 will have increases in 2004.
Petersen said the increased fees were nothing new. Historically, the cost to play adult programs has risen from year to year based on the economy and other considerations.
But not all of the increases will come in adult sports. There will be slight increases in the After School Program, School Days Off and the Pee Wees program, which are expected to cost each participant another dollar in 2004. Teeball, coach-pitch, and girls softball teams also will see slight increases next year.
The hardest hit adult programs will include the fall volleyball program that will increase from $235 to $300 per team, and the adult flag football league and basketball leagues, which will increase from $275 to $310 per team.
Softball will remain the most expensive summer sport, jumping $30 this year from $570 to $600 per team.
Petersen said the increased fees are expected to save the city about $19,154 over the next year -- which is a little less than the $28, 876 that the city had hoped.
The fees do not include field user fees, which are not reflected in the recreational budget. Teams using outdoor fields in Steamboat will be required to pay to use them, which goes into the field maintenance budget for the city.
"When we first looked at the budget, we were asked to totally cover our costs, and that's what we did," Petersen said. "But when we looked at it, we realized that it wasn't a customer friendly approach. We decided to find ways to keep fees from skyrocketing. That's what you see in the latest budget."
Jim Dudley, who has sponsored adult soccer teams for as long as he can remember, said he thought the fees were in line with other towns' recreational programs. He said this year's jump is less than some of the increases he has seen in the past.
"I don't think it should be free to play an adult recreational sport," Dudley said. "But I also don't think that the city should expect to fully recover the cost to run the programs, either. It's important for Parks and Recreation to make sure that it's affordable to play recreational sports in Steamboat."
Dudley said he would continue to sponsor an indoor soccer team this winter and an outdoor soccer team next summer despite the increases. It's something he has done for years, and he feels that the cost of playing soccer in Steamboat is still reasonable.