Columbia County raises fees on rental facilities for first time in six years
Columbia County’s Rental Facilities and Venues Department is seeking approval from the county’s commission to increase rental rates and fees at some of its properties.
It has been six years since the department has asked for changes in its rental rates and given the time, this is a change that Sandy Boner, the department manager, said she believes is necessary.
“We are responsible for covering all of our expenses with our revenue,” Boner said. “That’s the reason that we have to stay current with our prices, because as our expenses go up, our rental fees have to go up.”
Unlike Richmond County, the Columbia County Rental Facilities and Venue Department acts as an enterprise fund. In other words, the money drawn from each facility goes back into the department, making it self sufficient, said Barry Smith, the Columbia County Community and Leisure Services division director.
“They operate off of the money they bring in,” Smith explained. “It’s not part of the general fund, it’s a whole separate fund that was set up specifically for the Rental Facilities and Venue Department.”
The Richmond County facilities department operates differently from Columbia County. The revenue for the venues in Richmond County goes back into the county’s general fund. Each facility has its own approved budget that include general expenses, such as water, electrically and overall maintenance.
“Basically we have budgets set for each of our facilities and they range with the size of the facilities,” said Chris Scheuer, the Richmond County deputy director of I-Support Services. “A budget is approved by the commission and we kind of set some goals when it comes to the revenue and hopefully we can offset what expenses there are to maintain those facilities.”
Although both counties operate differently, each uses the same method when it comes to figuring out the appropriate rates to charge for their facilities and venues.
“We periodically look at things around us, like in Columbia County or the private sector or maybe even Aiken County to get a gauge on where we stand in relationship to what the market is,” Scheuer said. “Most of our facilities are a little older than some places like Savannah Rapids Pavilion, so we’ve got to position ourselves to put those types of things into consideration. If we put a lot of expenses into these facilities and added value it might justify an increase, but over the last five to 10 years most of our increases have been very small.”
The increases the Columbia County Rental Facilities and Venues Department are trying to obtain are small according to Boner.
“There are a couple of areas where if you rent the entire building that percentage was a little higher because we were actually lower than the market, but for the most part there was $25 to $50 price increases,” the department manager said. “When you talk about a six, seven or eight hundred dollar price increase, there weren’t any. If the price was originally $625 it is now $650, which is a small percentage.”
Through a market survey of facilities comparable to those in Columbia County, Smith said the department determined the prices for its rental facilities did not line up with the prices of the surrounding areas.
“We were actually lower in rental fees than (others) were, so raising (the prices) up a little bit is basically going to get us in line with what other facilities are charging in the CSRA,” Smith said. “So I don’t think it is going to hurt anything, if anything we will gain a little more revenue which periodically you need to do that. We needed to increase the fees to get us more in line with 2013 expenses.” You Might Also Like: