Feature Article - June 2008
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Town and Country

Suburban facilities were more likely than others to see increasing revenues from 2006 to 2007. Some 41.5 percent reported their revenues had increased in this time period, compared to 38.4 percent of rural respondents and 34.5 percent of urban respondents. Most respondents across all three categories had seen flat revenues for the year, with 59.2 percent of urban, 57.1 percent of rural and 52.1 percent of suburban respondents indicating that their revenues had not changed from 2006 to 2007. These numbers do not change much over the next several years, as just 45.6 percent of suburban and 39.1 percent of rural respondents anticipate seeing increases in their revenue. A greater increase is anticipated among urban respondents, where 42 percent expect revenues to increase from 2008 to 2009.

While urban respondents reported the highest operating expenditures for fiscal 2007—with an average cost that was 88.2 percent higher than the average cost reported by rural respondents—respondents from rural communities were anticipating the greatest increase in their operating expenditures between fiscal 2007 and fiscal 2009. Rural respondents are anticipating a 15.3 percent increase between fiscal 2007 and fiscal 2009, while urban respondents are expecting a 10.9 percent increase in the same time period. This will reduce the difference between the average operating expenditures in these types of communities from 88.2 percent to 81 percent.

Suburban respondents fell in the middle, with costs and anticipated changes falling more closely to urban averages. On average, suburban respondents reported their fiscal 2007 operating expenditures were $1,556,000, just 10.5 percent lower than the average reported by urban respondents.

And they are expecting their expenditures to grow at nearly the same rate—11 percent—over the next couple of years. (See Figure 32.)

Figure 32: Average Operating Expenditures, 2007-2009, by Community
All Types$1,386,800$1,459,300$1,554,700+12.1%

Interestingly, when it comes to operating expenditures for aquatic operating expenditures, it is the urban respondents who project the highest percentage increases between fiscal 2007 and fiscal 2009. Urban respondents reported that their operating expenditures for aquatics would rise from an average of $498,500 in fiscal 2007 to $602,500 in 2009—an increase of 20.9 percent. Suburban respondents are expecting a slightly smaller increase of 16.1 percent from $396,800 in fiscal 2007 to $460,800 in 2009. Rural respondents, on the other hand, are anticipating a much slower increase of just 1 percent, from $262,300 in fiscal 2007 to $264,800 in 2009.

With a larger pool of candidates to choose from, and with a higher likelihood of operating more facilities—and more complex facilities—it is probably no surprise that urban facilities not only employ far more people than their suburban and rural counterparts, but also are anticipating the largest increase in the number of employees in the next three years. Urban respondents currently employ an average of 285.9 people, and they expect that number to grow by 51.5 percent in the next three years to 433.2, driven largely by a 145.6 percent increase in the number of seasonal workers they employ, much larger than the 62.9 percent increase expected among facilities of all types. They also are expecting a 42.9 percent increase in the number of volunteers they employ, compared to a 32.9 percent increase expected among all types of communities. Other increases fall more closely to the average among all facilities, with a 10.3 percent increase in the number of full-timers and a 21.1 percent increase in the number of part-timers.

Suburban facilities were expecting more rapid increases in the number of full-time workers they employed—a 20.7 percent increase within the next three years, though they were anticipating smaller-than-average increases in the other types of employees, including part-time (a 16.9 percent increase), seasonal (a 14.9 percent increase) and volunteers (a 19 percent increase).

Rural respondents were the only community type anticipating cuts, projecting an 8.5 percent decrease in the number of full-time workers they employed, while they were anticipating a larger increase—53 percent—in the number of volunteers working at their facilities.