Feature Article - June 2017
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Regional Information

A Look at Regional Trends


Looking ahead, respondents from the Northeast and Western regions are expecting the greatest increase in their average operating expenditure between 2016 and 2018. Respondents in the Northeast projected a 5.9 percent increase in that time frame, to an average of $1,744,000. Western respondents projected a 5.6 percent increase, to an average of $2,340,000. Respondents in the other regions were expecting more modest increases, with South Central respondents projecting a 3.3 percent increase to an average operating expenditure of $2,157,000; Midwestern respondents projecting a 2.3 percent increase to an average of $1,768,000; and South Atlantic respondents projecting a 1.8 percent increase, to an average of $2,554,000.

Respondents in the West once again earned back the highest percentage of their operating costs via revenue, while those in the South Central region held their spot as the region earning back the lowest percentage of operating costs via revenues. In the West, respondents reported that they earned an average of 53.1 percent of their operating costs back via revenues (up from 52.4 percent in 2016). They were followed by the Midwest (50.7 percent, up from 49.6 percent), the Northeast (50.2 percent, up from 50 percent), and the South Atlantic region (48.5 percent, up from 47.6 percent). Only respondents in the South Central region reported a decrease in the percentage of operating costs they earn back via revenue from 2016 to 2017. This year, South Central respondents said they earn back an average of 45.6 percent of their costs, down from 46.1 percent in 2016.

Respondents from the West, Midwest and Northeast were the most likely to report that they had taken action to reduce their operating expenditures, though a majority of respondents in all regions had done so. Some 85.9 percent of respondents in the West, 84.7 percent in the Midwest and 84.7 percent in the Northeast said they had taken such actions. They were followed by the South Atlantic region, where 81.1 percent said they had taken action to reduce expenditures. Respondents in the South Central states were the least likely to indicate they had taken such actions, though 78.4 percent said they had done so.

In addition to being the region most likely to have acted in any way to reduce their expenditures, respondents from the West were the most likely to report that they had improved energy efficiency (55.9 percent), reduced staff (33.5 percent), cut programs or services (21.7 percent), reduced hours of operation (19.5 percent), or closed facilities (7.7 percent). Respondents in the Midwest were more likely than those from other regions to report that they had put construction plans on hold (31.3 percent) or shortened their season of operation (8.6 percent). Finally, those in the Northeast were the most likely to report that they had increased fees (49.6 percent).

Construction Plans

Respondents from the South Atlantic region were the most likely to report that they had plans to build new facilities, or to make additions or renovations to their existing facilities. Some 73 percent of South Atlantic respondents said they had such plans, up from 69 percent in 2016. They were followed by those in the South Central region, where 69.8 percent had construction plans (up from 67.3 percent); the Northeast, where 69 percent had plans (up from 62.8 percent), and the West, where 67 percent had construction plans (down from 69.6 percent). Respondents in the Midwest were least likely to indicate they were planning construction, with some 65.6 percent saying they were planning construction (up from 64.9 percent). (See Figure 34.)


Respondents in the South were most likely to be planning to build new, with 33.9 percent of South Central respondents and 32.9 percent of South Atlantic respondents reporting they were planning new construction. They were followed by the Midwest (28.9 percent) and West (26.2 percent). Respondents in the Northeast were least likely to be planning new construction, with 23.1 percent indicating they had such plans.

Plans for additions to existing facilities were most prevalent among northeastern respondents, where 33.1 percent said they were planning additions. They were followed by the South Atlantic states (31.9 percent), the South Central region (31.0 percent), and the West (29.9 percent). Respondents in the Midwest were the least likely to be planning additions, with 28.9 percent indicating they had such plans.

South Atlantic respondents were the most likely to report that they had plans for renovations, with 52.6 percent reporting they would be renovating their existing facilities. They were followed by the West (49.8 percent), the Northeast (49.5 percent) and the Midwest (48.7 percent). Respondents from the South Central states were the least likely to be planning renovations, with 46.1 percent reporting they had such plans.

Respondents in the South Central states plan to spend the most on their construction plans, with an average cost of $4,792,000, 11.5 percent higher than the average for all respondents. They were followed by the West, at $4,719,000, 10 percent higher than the average for all respondents. Respondents in other regions were planning to spend less on construction, with those in the Northeast planning to spend an average of $4,174,000 (2.9 percent less than the average for all respondents), those in the Midwest planning to spend $4,002,000 (6.9 percent less), and those in the South Central states planning to spend $3,939,000 (8.4 percent less).