City proposing increased fees for civic center, ambulance services and more
By LYNETTE SOWELL
The Copperas Cove city council held a special workshop last Thursday, during which it heard from Ariana Beckman, the city’s Director of Budget, about proposed fee changes for the upcoming fiscal year which begins Oct. 1, 2023.
Among the changes are several proposed increases to fees for city facility rentals, such as the Copperas Cove Civic Center.
Full-day rentals, depending on the day, would have different costs, also called “tiered” rates.
The current rental cost is $250 for one day, from 7 a.m. until midnight.
With the new fee schedule, rental on Monday-Thursday would be $400 per day; rentals on Friday or Sunday would be $800; and an all-day rental on Saturday would be $1,000.
To rent the civic center for full weekend, Friday-Sunday, it would amount to $2,000.
The restoration fee” would change from a $40 to 10 percent of the rental cost.
The current kitchen fee would go away and be included in the cost of the overall rental and no longer a separate fee.
A proposed new deposit for a civic center event where alcohol is served, would be $600.
When asked about the last time the civic center rates were raised, City Manager Ryan Haverlah told the council that the last time the rate was changed, it went down to the current $250 rate.
At that time, Haverlah said, the Civic Center did not have a lot of activity, so the council asked to lower the fee. However, with the low rate also came a price – damage to the facility.
“As we have improved the usage of the civic center and recognize that because the fee is so low, and the deposit is low and damage occurs at the Civic Center, those organizations or event planners walk away. If there’s damage, that’s it. They’ve paid what they’re supposed to. Really at this point, it’s ensuring that the value of the civic center is actually recognized through the proper fee.”
Jeff Stoddard, Parks & Recreation Director, also explained the reason behind the $600 deposit for events that serve alcohol at the civic center: People don’t clean up after themselves at these events.
“Generally, historically, if there’s alcohol served at these events, the cleanup is never done appropriately, never done properly, picking up beer bottles, beer cans, in the parking lot, in the city park, around the building, inside the building, and the restrooms – everywhere. So generally, at events with alcohol, staff is having to go behind and do a thorough cleaning to be ready for the next one.”
“The tiered system for the rental will put us line with pretty much everybody in the local area,” Stoddard said, indicating that both the cities of Gatesville and Killeen have the tiered fee system.
Councilmember Joann Courtland asked if the city had considered a nonprofit rate, such as what Killeen has for its rentals. Killeen offers 10 percent discount for nonprofits and military.
“We do have a lot of nonprofits that use the civic center. For instance, the Feast of Sharing. It’s on a Thursday, going from $250 to $400, or if they decide to have it on a Saturday, $250 to now $800 – that’s a lot to absorb in their budget. And like I said, I do know that Killeen does specific things for nonprofits when they do rent out their facilities. Because I know that was part of the discussion when it went to $250.”
In the end, the consensus was to give nonprofits a 25 percent discount for civic center rental, for doing “mission events.”
For the Ogletree Gap pavilion, there are also proposed fee changes. Monday-Friday rental of the pavilion would be $200, the current fee. However, to rent the facility on a weekend day the cost would be $400.
The city anticipates an additional $12,000 in revenue through these fees for facility rentals.
There are some fee changes to the use of several of the city’s parks for special events, which will now be assessed a restoration fee. Prior to this, there were no restoration fees for organizations using any of the parks.
To hold a special event in City Park, the proposed restoration fee is $300; for Ogletree Gap Park, $150; and for South Park, $100.
The proposed new fee for an organized race/run/walk in any of the parks would be $50.
EMS fees have proposed increases of $100 per call for ambulance services, as well as the “no transport fee” in the city and county to be increased by $50 per call plus an additional $5 per mile.
Fire Inspections would go up $25 across the board.
For Animal Control, there are also some notable fee changes. City licenses for dogs and cats would go up to $5, from $3. To reclaim a lost pet, the impound fee would go to $30, up from $20. For each additional day the animal is held, the fee would be $10 per day, up from $6.
For aquatics, new fees would be restoration fees added to the cost of swim passes for individuals, families, and senior citizens. To rent one of the city’s pools for a party, the cost would go to $125 from $100.
Golfers would also see some proposed increased fees at the Hills of Cove Golf Course, increases which would bring in an additional $19,000 in revenue during the next fiscal year.
Several of those changes include increase in annual and semiannual green fees for additional dependents and senior spouses. An annual trail fee with cart storage would be an additional $100, a new fee in addition to the annual green fee. A new tournament fee of $500 would be assessed for setup and tear down of the event canopy.
As with the previously mentioned civic center and other facility fees, the council requested the city offer a percentage discount for nonprofits booking the facilities.
Altogether, the increased fees would bring in an anticipated $627,980 in additional revenue, the bulk coming from the emergency medical services ambulance transport rates of $564,580.
The full list of proposed fee changes can be found at: https://destinyhosted.com/coppedocs/2023CCSCW/20230629_2021/11687_FY_202.... The final proposed fee changes will go before the council again when it adopts the annual budget in August, and will not take affect until Oct. 1, 2023.