User Fees & Funding FAQ
Valpo Parks – User Fees & Funding FAQ
Valpo Parks manages more than 900 acres of parkland, 28 athletic fields, 24 miles of pathways, 15 miles of trails, 14 playgrounds, 2 golf courses, and a dog park. Valpo Parks has $35 million in assets and operates on a $7 million operating budget. In 2023, property taxes accounted for 43 percent of the annual revenue generated by Valpo Parks to support the budget. The remaining revenue is generated through user fees, sponsorships, and grants to cover the remainder of the budget.
Fees collected are reinvested in our parks.
All fees go to dedicated accounts to fund staffing, supplies, and equipment. Some fees are used to supplement dollars appropriated by the City Council for facility maintenance and capital improvements.
Indiana’s user-pay system has sustained Valpo Parks for more than 75 years.
Approximately 50 percent of Valpo Parks’ operating budget comes from user fees while only 43 percent comes from City property taxes. The remaining 7 percent comes from sponsorships, grants, and other miscellaneous revenues. A “user-pay” model is essential to support operations of the Parks and help contribute to providing a high-quality experience.
Why do fees periodically change?
When costs of utilities, supplies, and equipment increase for you at home, they increase for us too. We alter fees to maintain a high level of service for our patrons.
My taxes support Valpo Parks—why do I have to pay more for services?
Every tax dollar you pay is divided to support a wide variety of city services. A small percentage of each tax dollar is appropriated to Valpo Parks. The gap generated is partially covered by user fees.
Where does the money actually go when I pay for services?
All revenue from entrance fees, programs, and rentals is used to support the operating budget and help contribute to capital improvements.
Why doesn’t money collected from rentals get used just on repairing shelters, or money from disc golfers get used just on disc golfing?
No user group generates enough revenue to be self-supporting. There are also basic services that we provide at little or no cost to users that need to be funded. Combining all types of user fees allows us to provide a wide range of services.
What have you done with dollars from past fee increases?
Funds have been used to offset increases in utility, fuel, labor, supplies, and to replace vehicles and equipment. Additionally, increases have been used to enhance the park experience by improving infrastructure within the parks system.
How are new rates/fees determined?
We look at many factors, including the needs of our users, when fees were last raised, fees in other cities and at private facilities, occupancy rates, our budget, and the revenue needed to support staff and services. Valpo Parks has adopted a cost recovery model and resource allocation philosophy based on the community's service expectations. In addition to providing a budgeting tool for staff to accurately forecast the direct costs of programs, the cost recovery model also establishes minimum participation levels needed to meet or exceed cost recovery.
Who approves the annual fee structure?
Each year, the Valpo Parks Board of Directors approves a range of fees across the entire organization. We use this fee to determine our revenue projections and estimated expenses. Any new fees or fees outside the approved range need Valpo Parks Board approval.