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Brandon Township board votes to lower recreation fees



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February 03, 2010 - Brandon Twp.- The township board has unanimously approved at the Feb. 1 board meeting lowering non-resident recreation fees from $15 to $10.

The decision brings non-resident fees back to the level they were at for several years prior to February 2008 when the board approved an increase to $60. That jump in cost sparked an outcry from non-residents and residents alike, and prompted the board to lower the fee to $15 six months later and just prior to a primary election in August 2008.

Lowering the fees again may seem like a surprising move as the township struggles with decreasing revenue, but the poor economy was actually the motivating factor.

"It's all about helping out the economy, whatever we can do through the parks and recreation department to have children be part of our programs," said Recreation Director Fred Waybrant. "We care that kids get the opportunity to recreate, and parents are not strapped for fees."

Trustee Tom Stowell noted that the reduction also keeps the township competitive with the non-resident fee charged by surrounding communities and a lower fee may increase participation and subsequently, revenue.

The township saw significant declines in recreation program participation in 2008 after raising the non-resident fee to $60— a decision made after Groveland Township officials declined to increase their $15,000 annual contribution to the Brandon Recreation Department to $42,144, to sufficiently fund the recreation program for their residents, 388 of whom participated in Brandon recreation programs in 2007. Groveland officials took their decision to not increase the funding one step further and withdrew their previous annual contribution, saying their residents were polled and preferred a user fee.

"We want to reach back out to non-residents," said Waybrant. "We had a big drop in 2008. It's better now, but there is always room for growth."

In 2009, there were approximately 1,200 participants in Brandon recreation programs, with roughly 20 percent of those from outside the township, Waybrant said.

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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