TWIN FALLS — The Twin Falls Parks and Recreation Commission wants the City Council to consider raising fees at the entrance to Shoshone Falls and Dierkes Lakes parks.
Parks and Recreation Director Wendy Davis asked for the commission’s recommendation on a fee increase at its meeting Tuesday. The proposed increase will have to come to a public hearing before the City Council because it is greater than 5 percent.
As proposed, the $2 increase would raise vehicle entrance fees from $3 to $5 in order to help with upgrades at both parks — and it would allow visitors to pay with a credit card.
“There’s a lot of people in the world these days that do not carry cash,” Davis said.
The city charges a $3 vehicle fee at the entrance to the parks between March and September of each year. Buses (excluding school buses) are charged $20 and season passes are available for $25. All of the money goes into a fund specifically for expenses at Shoshone Falls and Dierkes Lake parks, she said.
Commissioners gave their recommendation hold a public hearing raise the fees, but they were not provided with a complete estimate of existing reserves because Davis said the city was still undergoing an audit. They also were not given an estimate of costs or a timeline for the proposed upgrades.
According to an incomplete record provided to the commission, the Twin Falls Parks and Recreation Department recorded 91,895 vehicles, and almost 300 buses, at the tollbooth in 2018. It collected about $322,884 in fee revenues.
For that same year, the department budgeted $96,450 in maintenance and operations, plus around $110,000 for capital improvements such as dock replacement and a retaining wall, she said.
The Times-News has filed a public records request for the parks’ expenditures and revenues over the past few years. The city had not responded to the request by the end of the day Tuesday.
The roads from the tollbooth to the parks are maintained entirely by the city’s parks department.
“That’s a lot of asphalt,” Davis said. “There’s a lot of expense in maintaining that kind of infrastructure.”
The road needs much work, and Dierkes Lake Park is in need of ADA upgrades and a new parking lot, she said. The parking lot has a sinkhole and needs to be re-engineered.
“That hole in that parking lot just does not go away,” Davis said.
Davis did not have a cost estimate or timeline for any of those projects.
Additionally, raising the fee from $3 to $5 would allow the city to have software to better track visitors while absorbing the costs incurred by credit card fees, she said. These fees could range from 15 cents to 50 cents per transaction, a finance department employee said.
The fee increase that’s been proposed would not affect season passes or bus fees.
Shoshone Falls Park was deeded to the city by Martha Stone and Frederick J. Adams in 1932. In 1980, the city began charging a $1 vehicle fee. That was raised to $2 in 1990 and to $3 in 1998 as part of a funding plan for park renovations.
“We haven’t bumped those prices up for 20 years,” Commissioner Brian Rice said. “I think (with) the maintenance costs and where we’re trying to head with the parks … it’s prudent for us to at least recommend to the Council to move forward with the public hearings and see what the public has to say about it.”
“It’s a 66 percent increase in revenue for $5,” Commissioner ZJ Martinez added. “I think it’s a no-brainer.”
The motion carried 7-0 with commissioners Richard Birrell and Cindy Collins not present at the meeting.