Photo by Chris Rogers
Winona youngsters have fun at Lake Lodge despite frigid weather. On January 1, 2013, Winona Park and Recreation began charging a $5 annual membership fee per person over age four for use of the Lodge and its rental skates and boats.
Winonans have been going to Lake Park Lodge to ice skate for years, but for the first time, they will have to pay to play. On January 1, Winona Park and Recreation began charging a $5 annual membership fee for use of the Lake Park Lodge. In addition to ice skate and snowshoe "rentals" the lodge offers concessions, ping-pong, and canoe and kayak "rentals" in the summer. Until this year, all of that was free, but this year Winona Park and Recreation will charge a fee to offset new cuts in funding to the department, according to Community Services Director Chad Ubl.
"Our funding sources remain the same: the tax levy, local government aid, and fees charged for other programs," Ubl said. "The amounts have changed."
Over the past two years, the City of Winona has seen a $32,873 decrease in local government aid—state funds for local government projects—down from $657,442 in 2011, according to Ubl. Funding from the city's tax levy dropped $29,301 in the same time span, down from $364,868 in 2011.
In the face of these reductions, "we decided to charge a fee to use Lake Lodge," Ubl said, noting that the rest of his department, the City Manager, and the City Finance Director were involved in the decision-making process. "We feel it is a modest amount to charge for our services," he said.
The fees were included in Winona Park and Recreation's 2013 budget, which was approved, along with the rest of the city's budget, by the City Council on December 17, 2012.
Ubl said Winona Park and Recreation expects fees from the Lodge, which will go into the department's general recreation fund, will make up for a large portion of the decrease in revenue.
Ubl also mentioned that scholarship programs are available for families who cannot afford the fee. "If people are having economic troubles and they feel they need help, they can contact our department," he said.