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Don Pedro to increase fees in 2017
Don Pedro Reservoir fee increases will range from just $2 more per night for tent camping in season to $50 more for an annual private houseboat permit with a non-discount renewal. - photo by Contributed to the Courier

Don Pedro Recreation Agency (DPRA) will implement an 8.5 percent increase on average across all proposed fees in 2017. Fee increases will range from just $2 more per night for tent camping in season to $50 more for an annual private houseboat permit with a non-discount renewal.

Despite this increase, DPRA fees overall will be 12.8 percent below average when compared to other state agencies.

"We are trying to keep still it the best place value-wise for recreation, but at the same time we are trying to cover some more of our costs," said Charles Fernandes, a DPRA Board of Control Member and Turlock Irrigation District Director during the Sept. 13 TID meeting.

DPRA fees were found to be 18 percent below average compared to other agencies in the state. This includes camping fees at 26.5 percent below average, day use fees at 12.5 percent below average and annual permit fees at 20.5 percent below average.

The fee increase is expected to result in about $100,000 in additional revenue.

This news came to light during the DPRA Board of Control's Sept. 9 meeting, as members voted to approve the 2017 budget of $3.6 million, which is a 10.3 percent increase from last year.

The recreation agency is also adding seven more part-time positions in 2017, a small, but significant boost for Don Pedro Lake day-to-day operations that have taken a hit due to personnel cutbacks over the past decade.

"As far back as 2006, we had 41 part-time employees at the DPRA," said Fernandes. "In this current year we have 16, so a lot of services have really gone down--especially with high use.

"They're going to start with 23 part time for 2017 with a note that if we have an exceptional water year and we have even more traffic then they'll come back to the Board to ask for more employees," said Fernandes.

Fernandes said that this increase was not the only good news presented to Board members during last week's meeting as revenue numbers for 2016 were shown to be at about $1.5 million to date.

"Cumulative revenue to date is about $400,000 more than what it was last year due to the water levels," said Fernandes.

With the fee adjustments, the projected 2017 revenue is $2,169,711. Other components in next year's revenue estimate are current fees multiplied by units of use at $1.8 million, concession revenue at about $200,000, and utilities and other revenue at just over $70,000.

Following budget discussions, DPRA Board members were also provided with an update on the rebuilding of the DPRA Office and Visitor Center, which was destroyed by a fire in May.

Next steps in the rebuild include forming a TID Steering Committee, Modesto Irrigation District and City and County of San Francisco Steering Committee, hosting a DPRA Board of Control workshop and providing regular updates to TID Board of Directors. Construction is slated to begin in 2017-18.