A Hill County Park Board member, taking a suggestion from another board member, successfully moved Monday to delay further discussion of fees at Beaver Creek Park until the board’s March 4 meeting.
Board member Robbie Lucke said the committee tasked with suggesting fee rates should have another meeting to set multi-year fee rates, as board member and Hill County Commissioner Jeff Lavoi suggested.
“It would be my recommendation, after hearing Jeff, that this committee goes back for one more meeting, and see if we can’t come up with a three-year fee proposal,” Lucke said. “Frankly, I would love to do that, because I get a little tired of this, as we all do. …
“So, why don’t we just do that and postpone this month for fees and come back in March with a three-year fee system, and forget it for two years. I think that would be just absolutely wonderful.”
With the support of the board, and suggestions for several questions, cabin owner Carol Crosby said she could put together a survey to give to the cabin owners at Beaver Creek Park to find what their thoughts are about fees, services and other issues on the park for the committee to consider when it meets again late this month.
The board in January created an ad-hoc committee including Lucke, LaVoi, board member June Grabofsky and cabin owners Beth Rucinski and Bob Williams to look at fees.
Park Superintendent Chad Edgar and his assistant Pam Wilson also attended in an advisory capacity.
LaVoi — and Lucke — said they were uncomfortable with some of the recommendations of the committee, including, LaVoi said, raising one-day use fees from $7 to $10, a 43 percent increase.
Several cabin owners at the board’s January meeting, and again Monday, said they believe that several lease rate increases implemented in the last few years make the cabin owners feel they are being unfairly targeted.
The board appointed the committee after a contentious meeting in January where several cabin owners complained about a suggestion that the board consider charging a separate fee to cabin owners for the costs of garbage collection. The Unified Disposal Board handles garbage collection in Blaine, Hill and northern Chouteau counties and charges the park $8,500 a year, with the cabin owners charged half of that for six months worth of use.
Cabin owner Roy Lembke said the cabin lease already covers that — the $350 a year set last year includes garbage collection.
But, the board said, that $350 goes into the park budget and then the park pays the UDB fee. The suggestion was discussing setting a separate fee to pay that amount, rather than paying from the general park budget.
LaVoi said that issue may go away — the UDB is talking about assessing a charge on property taxes, which would be paid by all property owners in the county including on Beaver Creek cabins, which could eliminate the park’s paying the fee. Some property owners in rural parts of the county now do not pay the UDB fee, although LaVoi said he just found out they can voluntarily pay the fee, as he has started doing.
Lembke said he also wants to see uniform application of the rules — the park superintendent told him he could build some small new outbuildings at his cabin, for storage and keeping firewood at the site, and now he is being told he would be penalized for that.
The board discussed several options on that issue, including grandfathering in existing extra outbuildings — which is not allowed under park regulations that state an effort is made to keep a rural, rustic environment at the park — with an additional fee charged, or allowing them to be grandfathered with the requirement they are torn down and no new buildings erected if the lease is transferred to a new owner.
The board did approve one recommendation of the committee, regarding dogs. The park regulations had said all dogs must be on leashes. The board approved the recommendation that dogs inside a fence at a cabin, or in tents, recreational vehicles or other vehicles do not need to be on a leash, but must be on a leash if they are on park property outside of those areas.