Some fees upped slightly in Lake Forest
Mary Kate Olson of Lake Forest during a Zumba class at the Lake Forest Recreation Center. Many Fitness Center memberships will be going up 3 ½ percent. | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 4, 2013 8:48AM
LAKE FOREST — Using the Lake Forest Fitness Center or Deerpath Golf Course will be a tad pricier for some individuals in 2013.
Increases in Fitness Center and Deerpath charges are part of the fee increases city officials approved in December. Everything from permanent tee times at Deerpath to the building-scale calculation fee of a single-family residence will require additional funds.
A number of new fees, such as a non-resident daily lakefront ramp launch fee of $60 and passing the required zoning public notice in a publication charge of $50 to applicants, are also planned in the new year.
Many Fitness Center memberships will be going up 3 ½ percent, but Parks Department officials don’t feel the bump will have any impact on attendance.
“I don’t think we will lose any people because of the membership fee,” said Jeff Wait, the city’s superintendent of special facilities, which includes the Fitness Center. “It is a great value.”
Some of the biggest fee hikes will occur in non-resident senior Fitness Center memberships. Certain non-resident senior memberships will increase by more than 20 percent.
He noted that the city continues to update equipment at the Fitness Center and keeps staff trained on the equipment and fitness programs so the fees need to rise accordingly.
Wait said a new addition to the fee structure is the All-Inclusive Group Exercise Pass. For an additional $279 for members or $620 for non-members, pass holders can attend any fitness class at the facility. Wait said these changes keep the Fitness Center competitive with surrounding fitness clubs and fills a void members cited.
Revenue growth from the Fitness Center is expected to generate more than $32,000 for the city.
Fee changes at the Fitness Center, Deerpath and the lakefront access are expected to net the city more than $80,000 in its next fiscal year.
The golf course would bring in the lion’s share of the new revenue, finishing the fiscal year with nearly $35,000 more in city coffers. Revenue generators at the course include increasing permanent tee times on the weekends from $250 to $300, increasing the fee for double buckets on the driving range from $11 to $15, and adding $2 to most cart fees, but giving seniors a $1 cart discount.
The city has also contracted with third-party booking agencies to boost under-utilized tee times as well as not increasing memberships. “We’re keeping 2013 membership rates the same as 2012 as long as they are purchased before Feb. 15, 2013,” Wait noted.
Having Deerpath meet budget projections continues to be an issue as golf courses throughout the North Shore try to generate more money.
“The golf course is a struggle,” said Elizabeth Holleb, city finance director. “The city created the (Deerpath) Golf Course Advisory Committee last year to make the course more fiscally sustainable.”
Holleb, who joined the city in June, noted that her former employer, Highland Park, had similar challenges with its course.
“Golf has become a more difficult climate,” Holleb said. “It is difficult to sustain operations … The golf industry overall has seen little growth. I think it is the economy and saturation of the market.”
Holleb said the city will continue to look at fees to make the course attractive to current and potential members while also making it sustainable.
“The golf course is the Parks Department’s biggest challenge financially,” Holleb said.
Holleb said the city’s parks fund is well managed and there are ample reserves. She said the city continues to build reserves to ensure capital-improvement projects can be addressed.
New lakefront permits are expected to net the city nearly $12,000.
One of the sources of new revenue from the lakefront access is allowing non-residents to launch from the ramp for a daily fee of $60.
Holleb said depending on how well the city markets that availability, it could bring significant money to city coffers.
“It’s a beautiful beach,” Holleb said. “If the city is able to market it, it could be a revenue opportunity for us.”