KINGSPORT - The cost to rent the Civic Auditorium, Allandale Mansion and rooms at the Kingsport Renaissance Center is going up.
The Kingsport Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted Tuesday night to amend the fee schedule pertaining to the Parks and Recreation Department. More than 13 pages of fees were affected. However, not all fees went up. Some went up, new ones were added, and many were left alone. No fees at Bays Mountain Park increased.
Last fall, a fee committee of city staff was created to take an across-the-board look at Kingsport's schedule of fees and charges and whether they should be raised, lowered or left alone.
Kingsport has not had any major changes to its fees in eight years.
In December, the BMA voted to increase certain fees in the Building Department and raise court costs to $50. Chris McCartt, development services manager for the city, said up next would be the fees at the Kingsport Public Library and in the Public Works Department.
The schedule of fees and charges can be found in the city's code of ordinances and includes building permits, demolition work, overdue library books, rental fees for city facilities, and rezoning requests. The committee is not looking at property taxes or water and sewer rates.
Proposed changes include a $50 increase to rent the Civic Auditorium (from $250 to $300), the weekend rental fees for Allandale increasing $15 to $20, and all of the space rental fees at the Kingsport Renaissance Center going up $1 to $2.
McCartt said the committee did some benchmarking with similar cities within the region and across the state to help determine which fees should increase.
"Some things are increasing such as fees for the Civic Auditorium. Those increases are mainly due to our cost and trying to keep up with what the market is," McCartt said. "From a fee standpoint, (the Civic Auditorium) is very affordable, and we want to keep it there. But as electricity increases and other things increase, we need to stay up with the market."
Parks and Recreation Director Kitty Frazier said the city is also trying to clean up some fees that need to be eliminated, programs not conducted anymore, such as the Riverview Pool, which was replaced last year with a splash pad.
"We've tried to create some opportunities to have more flexibility," Frazier said. "For example, we're creating some new fee structures for time blocks (at the Civic Auditorium). In past, there has been one amount for the whole day."
Frazier said the city is also adding new facilities to be rented, such as the shelters as Cloud Park ($5 per hour) and the Riverview Splashpad shelters (also $5 per hour).
"You could (use them), but you couldn't reserve it. You can still use them, but if you want to make sure it's dedicated for your function, then it's a good idea to get a park permit."
The fee changes are projected to bring in an additional $22,500 a year to the city's coffers.
"We hope it will make it more user friendly," Frazier said. "We did not go across the board. We went back and saw what everyone else was charging and did some really extensive benchmarking."
In other business Tuesday night:
•The BMA voted to create a wellness program for city employees. The proposal calls for a mandatory health risk assessment (to be conducted by Wellmont Health System) and a diabetes management program (to be done by Wilson Pharmacy). The cost of both program is estimated to be $81,000.
•The BMA voted to establish a conservation overlay ordinance. The new ordinance would allow residents to create a neighborhood district with appearance guidelines that the homes and buildings must adhere to.
•The BMA voted to establish a fee for additional 96-gallon garbage cans to be used in the new automated collection service. Residents receive the first can free, and additional cans can now be purchased for $60 each.