Belleville User Fee Review

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| Published , updated April 9, 2024

What is the user fee review?

In line with the Parks and Recreation Masterplan Recommendation #29, the City allocated $50,000 in the 2022 Operating Budget funded by the Tax Rate Stabilization Fund to undertake a comprehensive User Fee Study and Policy to outline a sustainable basis for reducing municipal subsidy on activities where possible and supporting ongoing subsidy where appropriate.

In July 2023, City staff engaged project consultant Strategy Corp Inc. to conduct a comprehensive user fee review to evaluate the City’s current fee schedule and property tax subsidization rates against comparable municipalities and industry standards. The consultant conducted interviews with key stakeholders and surveyed residents as part of the review.

A final report with recommendations to Council was slated for November 2023, but as of April 2024 the report has not yet been finished.

Why is it being done?

Most of the City of Belleville’s parks, recreation and culture user fees have not undergone significant review or changes in recent years. The user fees for parks, recreation, and culture services, despite some minor adjustments, have remained stable since 2015. This is due to various factors, including the impact on users of the CAA arena renovation, results from fee comparisons with other municipalities and operational challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

As part of the City’s Parkland and Recreation Master Plan approved in 2021, it was identified that a User Fee Study and Policy should be undertaken to address the appropriateness of the current level of cost recovery and to ensure prudent capital and operational planning. The 2023 review will include an assessment of the City’s existing user fee schedule, potential new user fees and the development of user fee-related policies.

Draft user fees

Although the user fees review is not yet complete, an early draft of the consultants’ findings and recommendations suggest that many of Belleville’s fees are lower than its local and provincial comparator communities. Therefore, the consultants will be recommending that the City increase those fees.

2024 Operating Budget survey results

Feedback received by 707 respondents through the City’s preliminary draft operating budget survey highlighted a desire to prioritize non-discretionary service areas funded by the City’s property tax levy. This engagement strategy helped to shape the 2024 Operating Budget
guidelines that were approved by Council, the most significant being:

  • That the overall residential property tax rate increase should not exceed 5%; and
  • That the 2024 draft operating budget consider the service areas prioritized through public input received.

What are examples of user fees?

Facilities and associated fees to be considered in the study include:

  • Ice/floor surfaces and event fees
  • Gymnasiums
  • Aquatic facilities
  • Multi-purposed spaces
  • Playing fields, ball diamonds, parks, marina operations, community centres, museum services and more. In order to begin this process, Strategy Corp Inc. will engage stakeholders to develop recommendations.

More: Belleville User Fees

Timeline

March 2024

The City is still working with the consultant on the User Fee Review.

January 2024

According to City staff, as of January 9, 2024, all the interview and surveys had been completed, and the consultants were working on some additional benchmarking with other municipalities. A draft report was expected in the next couple of weeks. From there the project team/staff will review the draft report and then it will be finalized with a report going to Council. Part of this process will include a communication out to all our stakeholders/user groups.

October 2023 – User fee review survey

The User Fee Survey ran until October 6, 2023.

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