January 2023 - Parks & Recreation - 24

EQUITY
Prince William County (Virginia)
Department of Parks, Recreation
and Tourism has subscribed to an
assertive cost-recovery model in
which virtually all programming
and indoor facility use require a fee.
Incorporating Equity Into Cost Recovery
By Seth Hendler-Voss and Sara Smith
F
rom its inception in 1972 as a quasi-independent authority and carrying
through a merger with the county government, the Prince William
County (Virginia) Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism
(DPRT) has subscribed to an assertive cost-recovery model in
which virtually all programming and indoor facility use require a fee. Today,
DPRT is expected to generate 30 to 40 percent of its annual revenue from fees.
The remainder comes from general fund subsidy. Cost-recovery targets range
from zero percent to more than 100 percent across approximately 1,500 program
offerings. We lean into our cost-recovery mandate because it spurs the
ingenuity necessary to stay relevant in an environment where our customers can
easily switch to private providers. It also helps us build the needed political capital
to branch out into new areas. That is, if elected officials see we can deliver
value-added programs that do not rely on tax-payer subsidy, they may be more
apt to approve larger, bolder ventures over time.
To some recreation professionals,
cost-recovery policies conflict
with their intrinsic beliefs in public
recreation, creating a moral dissonance
between honoring our industry
creed of dismantling access barriers
and delivering new recreation
opportunities that our governing
24 Parks & Recreation |
J ANUAR Y 2 0 2 3
bodies may not otherwise agree to
subsidize. DPRT, like many agencies,
walks this tight rope daily, but
we now use equity as our balancing
pole.
Bridging the Fee/Free Gap
Our recent focus on inclusivity as a
| PARK S ANDRECRE AT ION . OR G
core element of our strategic plan
has challenged us to bridge the fee/
free gap for the 10,000 children experiencing
poverty in Prince William
County who lack the financial
means to participate in our highestpriced
programs. The racial and
ethnic representation of program
participants is strong due to Prince
William County's status as the first
majority-minority county in
the
state, but income level is an invisible
factor we have not measured.
In 2021, we launched the CountMe-In
(CMI) scholarship program
to provide free participation in
summer camps, which are our most
popular and second-most expensive
offering, without undercutting our
cost-recovery goals. Rather than using
a discount model that requires
foregoing revenue for registration
slots filled, we sought a private

January 2023 - Parks & Recreation

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of January 2023 - Parks & Recreation

January 2023 - Parks & Recreation - Intro
January 2023 - Parks & Recreation - Cover1
January 2023 - Parks & Recreation - Cover2
January 2023 - Parks & Recreation - 1
January 2023 - Parks & Recreation - 2
January 2023 - Parks & Recreation - 3
January 2023 - Parks & Recreation - 4
January 2023 - Parks & Recreation - 5
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January 2023 - Parks & Recreation - 24
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January 2023 - Parks & Recreation - Cover3
January 2023 - Parks & Recreation - Cover4
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/february-2023
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/january-2023
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/december-2022
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/november-2022
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/october-2022
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/september-2022
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/august-2022
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/july-2022
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/june-2022
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/may-2022
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/april-2022
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/march-2022
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/february-2022
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/january-2022
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/december-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/november-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/october-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/september-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/august-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/july-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/june-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/may-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/april-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/march-2021
https://www.nxtbookmedia.com