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Nottoway Garden Plot Fees Could Go Up in 2013

Fairfax County Park Authority to host public comment meeting Wednesday on proposed hikes.

In three years time, residents with garden plots like those available at Nottoway Park in Vienna could be paying twice as much for the land as they are now.

The proposed increase is part of a package of proposed fees hikes for Fairfax County Park Authority services that would take effect April 1.

Park Authority officials will hear from residents about the proposals at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Herrity Building, 12055 Government Center Parkway.

In light of continued budget struggles, parks officials are hoping to make slight adjustments to fees in order to raise revenues and keep facilities such as golf courses and recreation centers – funded solely by user fees – operating at full capacity.

The Vienna Community Center gets a budget from the Town of Vienna.

The most dramatic fee hike: those for the garden plot program, which would more than double, according to the 2013 fee proposal.

As it stands, garden plot users pay $65 for a plot. Fees on the plots, which exists at nine parks in Fairfax County, including Nottoway Park in Vienna, would increase to more than $125, an increased phased in over three years at about $20 a year.

Other proposed adjustments would impact golf course greens fees, recreation center rentals, lakefront park services and picnic shelter reservations at certain county facilities.

In 2013, racquetball court rental fees for general admission users could increase from $4 to $6 at rec centers, including at Oakton's Oak Marr Recreation Center. A 10-hour court pass would increase from $20 to $35. But regular recreation center users with passes will be spared any racquetball fee increases.

Click here for more information on the proposed 2013 park fees.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is awaiting an audit that could identify potential cuts to the park authority's operating budget. As it stands, fees make up 52 percent of the authority's revenues; tax dollars comprise the other 48 percent.

Supervisors said they did not want to explore cuts that would dramatically affect the operation and maintenance of the county’s 420 public parks.

In November's general elections, more than 72 percent of voters said yes to a $75 million bond that will used to fund widespread improvements to a number of Fairfax County parks.

Do you have something to say about the proposed increases? The Park Authority is hosting a public hearing on its fee package at 7 p.m. Wednesday in room 106 of the Herrity Building at 12055 Government Center Parkway.

Residents will be given the opportunity to voice their opinions and concerns on the new fees at that time.

If you are unable to attend the meeting, you can send feedback via email at Parkmail@fairfaxcounty.gov. All comments must be received by Feb. 12.

Correction: The article has been corrected to reflect a proposed garden plot fee increase of $20 a year over three years, raising the fee to $125.

Ron January 29, 2013 at 12:07 PM
When will we wise up and stop the nonsense with the Parks in Northern VA? The notion that we need more Parks is nonsense, especially when we keep seeing $75 million bond issues that raise taxes for benefits most people never use. I can see raising some of the fees such as for racquet ball where you actually get some value for the money. But, a fee of $300 for the plots in Nottoway Park is outrageous. We enjoy walking in that area just to see what people do with those small plots. It's not for me, but to charge that much will scare all those people away. You cannot grow that much on those plots and this fee increase will end it for the few people who use the area to grow a few tomatoes. Every jurisdiction is Northern VA is addicted to spending our tax dollars with never a thought about the taxpayers. It's always up up with taxes.
NIMBY January 29, 2013 at 02:15 PM
I do find it funny that you mention parks that "most people never use," and then stating a few sentences later that you enjoy walking through those same parks. I guess we should just destroy the parks and facilities outside of your area, you know, the ones you don't use. And where do you get $300? It would increase to $125 by 2016. And that's still well below the going rate for a plot of land to grow a few things on, especially considering the long waiting lists at most places. On your broader point, the country did give a thought to the taxpayers. It's not their fault most taxpayers are too stupid to figure out what a bond issue is. Voters see a question on the ballots asking if they'd like to see $75M in improvements to parks (and in some cases the questions/referendums even state no tax increases are required), 72% say "oh, who wouldn't want better parks," and they're not smart enough to realize the costs of debt service, bond issuance, etc that ends up taking budget from elsewhere in the long run. There's a reason most every referendum on ballots passes, because if they don't see taxes increasing, the average taxpayer doesn't think there's a cost.

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