MALTA – Members of the Eastline Romp and Play Dog Park will see their annual fee increase next year after Eastline committee president, David Sanford, requested a rate increase during Monday’s Town Board meeting.
Currently the annual membership rates for the 20-acre, fenced in park where dogs can run off leash are set at $7 per dog for Malta residents and $15 for non-residents, Sanford requested permission from the board to increase the rate for residents to $15 and $20 for non-residents.
According to Sanford and Eastline Romp and Play Dog Park Committee Treasurer, Jake Zaidel, the park cannot sustain itself at the current rates.
“I don’t want to have the tag sales try to sustain the park, but it has to pay for more than what it’s paying for now,” Sanford said. “There is also other income such as banner sales, sponsors and things like that, but we really don’t have any other sources of income right now.”
The annual cost of operating the park is approximately $4,300. Sanford estimated that 240 membership tags were sold this year, with sales split evenly between residents and non-residents. The income from tag sales generates approximately $2,500 annually while the cost to insure the park comes to $2,900 annually.
The town provides some park maintenance free of charge, providing lawn mowing and port-a-potties on site 8 months out of the year, this would continue under the rate increase.
Additional park expenses include waste removal, both from providing small plastic bags to collect dog waste and trash removal, the cost of providing tags to each member, mailing expenses and maintenance and improvement costs.
“I think that’s probably the biggest thing that is lacking this year, we haven’t been able to afford some planned improvements,” Zaidel said. “We have about $3,000 sitting in a bank account from the [GlobalFoundries Town of Malta Foundation] and unfortunately we had some hiccups back in 2016 in implementing that. In 2017 we simply have not been able to afford what we need.”
Internal fundraising would be needed in addition to the grant in order to complete the planned project to construct shade structures in the park. Previous fundraising attempts by the Eastline dog park committee, such as the Dogs Day Out vendor fair, proved unprofitable due in part to the cost of insuring the event and the individual vendors who participated.
Increasing the membership fees to $15 per dog for residents and $20 for non-residents would generate about $2,000 in added income for the park each year.
“We would hope to establish a level of solvency that would allow us to provide new improvements to the park, as well, and either comply with the terms of that grant or return those funds,” Zaidel said.
The Town Board members voiced their support for the membership fee increase.
“I’m supportive of it, it’s very modest and we’re fortunate to have a non-profit like you guys that is willing to administer the program on our behalf. For the town to try to run that would have been considerably more expensive and your volunteer time to make this work is appreciated,” Town Board member John Hartzell said.
Following notification from the Eastline dog park committee of its intent to raise the membership fees, the Town Board has 45 days to object to rate hike otherwise the increase will go into effect. Town Supervisor Vincent DeLucia assured Sanford and Zaidel that the board had no intention of objecting to the requested increase.
“I’m supportive of raising that,” Town Supervisor Vincent DeLucia said. “Frankly, even for the non-residents, I thought it was probably one of the best deals that you’re going to get anywhere and that’s a modest increase.”
Dog owners seeking membership to the Eastline Romp and Play Dog Park may apply by mail or at the Town Clerk’s office. Applicants must provide proof of vaccination, dog license and the cover page from either their renter’s or homeowner’s insurance.