OLIVE BRANCH, MS (abc24.com) - It's been one of the best deals in town. For outdoor events or families looking for a place to get together, Olive Branch has offered the most affordable options. The city's been renting out space in its parks at bargain rates. Now, after almost 20 years, the board of aldermen is considering raising the rates.
The two pavilions at Olive Branch's city park are rented close to a hundred times a year. Their fees haven't changed since 1994.
"They're probably not as high as others around," says Mayor Sam Rikard. "I don't know that we necessarily need to be higher or as high as others around."
Raising the park rates are on the aldermen's agenda this week.
"The board has proposed raising rental fees for pavilion from $35 to $100. You get it all day." Rikard says it's not a big deal from the city's perspective, but probably is to residents.
"It may be a bigger deal if you look at it from a homeowner who wants to have a family reunion."
The board's also talked about charging out-of-towners more.
"My concern is how do you police that," Rikard says. "My opinion is it makes it easier on our parks department if you just have one set of fees and no matter where you live that's what you pay."
The city makes about $15,000 a year from the rentals. Rikard says raising rates would bring in around $5,000 extra dollars.
"If you raise these fees you're not going to fund major park improvements," which is something that's on the city's agenda. But the extra money generated won't come close to covering the renovations they'd like.
"You're looking at a million or two million dollars," Rikard tells abc24.com. "So this issue has got to be totally separated."
While those costs are a long way off, the rental hike could be decided this week.