Feature Article - June 2007
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General Survey Results

Patronage & Budgets

Concurrent with population increases and rising costs for everything from fuel to food, it would be expected that the number of people using most facilities would increase, as would budgetary requirements and fees for facility usage. This supposition bears out in the research, with most respondents reporting an increasing number of facility users, along with increasing operating costs.

The majority of respondents (93.8 percent) reported that the number of people using their facilities either had not changed or had increased from 2005 to 2006. More than 30 percent reported no change in patronage of their facilities, while 63.2 percent reported an increase in usage for that year. Increasing numbers of respondents are anticipating increasing numbers of patrons leading up to the year 2008. From 2006 to 2007, 66 percent of survey respondents expect the number of people using their facilities to increase, while less than one-third (29.6 percent) expect no change in those numbers. From 2007 to 2008, 70.1 percent of respondents expect their usage numbers to increase, while 27.4 percent anticipate no change. Only 2.5 percent of respondents are anticipating a decrease in facility visits for that year. (See Figure 7.)

Parks and recreation departments were more likely than the average respondent to be anticipating increases in the number of people visiting their facilities over the next several years. Between 2005 and 2006, 68.7 percent said they had seen an increase, and 26 percent said they had seen no change. Between 2006 and 2007, 69.1 percent were anticipating an increase, with 27.6 percent expecting no change. And for 2007 to 2008, nearly three-quarters (74.2 percent) were expecting to see an increase in the number of people using their facilities, with 24.1 percent expecting no change. Only 1.8 percent of respondents from parks and recreation departments expected to see any decrease in the number of people using their facilities in 2008.

YMCAs also skewed well above average. Nearly 68 percent saw an increase in usage of their facilities from 2005 to 2006, but many more are expecting increases for 2007 and 2008. From 2006 to 2007, nearly 80 percent of respondents from YMCAs expect the number of people using their facilities to increase. From 2007 to 2008, that number jumps to nearly 86 percent.

Schools and school districts were much less likely to be anticipating increases, and much more likely to be expecting no changes in usage, than the average respondent. From 2005 to 2006, 47.8 percent of schools said they had seen an increase, with 46.2 percent seeing no change. Those numbers don't change much for the following years. Less than 50 percent of school districts expect increases in 2007 or in 2008.

Many facilities charge a fee for their patrons, whether it's a health club membership fee, a baseball field usage fee or a one-time charge for an educational program at the local community center. Still other facilities charge no fee at all for using their facilities.

More than three out of five respondents (62.7 percent) report charging a membership or usage fee for people taking part in programs or using their facilities. Some 37.3 percent said they do not charge a fee for patrons to use their facilities or take part in their programming. (See Figure 8.)