10:51 PM PDT on Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Press-Enterprise

Costs are about to go up in Riverside for a variety of city services, from renting a picnic shelter at a city park to getting plans for a subdivision approved.

The City Council will vote Tuesday on the changes, which were recommended last week by its finance committee.

Many of the affected fees are charged to businesses and developers, such as fees for rezoning requests or entertainment permits. Some are for use of parks and community centers.

With most fees, the city currently recovers about 70 percent of its costs for facility maintenance, staff time and the like, and the proposed increases would raise that to 80 percent.

“We’ve invested a lot of money in our facilities and there’s a really high demand for our facilities,” Parks Director Ralph Nuñez said. “We want to make sure that our rates are fair, (and) they’re consistent with what neighboring cities are offering.”

The fee changes most likely to affect residents are for parks. For instance, reserving a picnic area used to cost everyone $60 for four hours. The new fee structure keeps the $60 fee for city residents using smaller facilities; larger facilities would begin to cost them $90, and nonresidents would be charged more than residents.

Holding events at community centers and city parks also would cost more, in some cases significantly. Nonprofit groups based in Riverside used to get community center space for free; now they may be charged between $15 and $160 an hour, unless they can obtain a city sponsorship to waive the fee.

Using a park for an event such as a wedding in the past required only a city permit; now it could cost $700 or more. Nuñez said nonprofit groups can ask to have the fee waived, and charges may be based in part on the community benefit of an event.

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