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City price hikes on public tennis courts and rec centers a failure, says independent report

Michael Bloomberg

Michael Bloomberg Credit: Michael Bloomberg (Getty Images)

The Bloomberg Administration’s plan to raise $6.3 million in revenue by steeply increasing adult fees for use of rec centers and tennis courts is a failure, according to a new report by the New York City Independent Budget Office.

But despite dramatic drop-offs in the number of people purchasing rec center memberships and permits, an additional $1.1 million was raised for fiscal year 2012 as a result of the price hikes. Among the findings:

-Sales of adult seasonal tennis permits, which rose from $100 to $200, fell 43% to a low of 7,265. Single pay permits, which rose from $7 to $15, fell 46% to 12,755.

- Recreation center memberships fell 52% to 46,047 in 2012 after the doubling of membership fees for adults and seniors at the start of the fiscal year. Revenue remained flat — but still fell $4 million below the Bloomberg Administration’s projections.

The Mayor’s office deflected questions to the NYC Dept. of Parks and Recreation.

“Many people renewed their recreation center memberships in months right before the new fee took effect — giving the impression of a large decline,” a spokesman said in a statement. Nevertheless, the study prompted the department to “reevaluate our fee structure,” and to institute a new $25 rec center membership for adults ages 18-24, which has been a success. Rec center memberships overall are up 17% in the latest fiscal year, and there also has been an uptick in overall tennis permits, said NYC Parks Spokesman Phil Abramson.

Prior to implementation of the 2011 price hikes, many advocates complained that higher fees would deprive less affluent New Yorkers of much-needed recreational access and impede NYC’s efforts to combat obesity and improve the health of residents.
 

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