Dubuque County Conservation Board members agreed last week to increase fees for camping and space rentals, as well as other proposed services, to combat the impacts of inflation.
Board members review county fees for different services every year and consider adjustments recommended by Conservation Department staff.
Department Executive Director Brian Preston said that this year, inflation is having a big impact on the department’s budget.
“Everything is getting expensive,” he said. “The price of a piece of Styrofoam for our docks went up from $125 to almost $300. The price of (electrical) wire and replacement parts for breakers are significantly higher — triple.”
For that reason, and after comparing county prices to those of similar entities, board members agreed to raise prices for numerous services, even beyond the recommendations of county staff.
Board Member Jacqueline Kehr is an avid camper, who said Dubuque County’s campsite fees were far below many parks in the tri-state area.
“In Wisconsin and Illinois, a lot of the parks were $20 for non-electric sites,” she said. “We’re still competitive there (at $15). But I saw sites for $28 to $30 for electric sites.”
Since last year, 50-amp electric sites have been $21 per night, while 30-amp sites are $20. Campsites with paved parking pads are $22 per night. Non-electric sites are $15 per night. To clarify the schedule for staff, Preston asked that 30-amp electric sites be brought up to $21 so at least all electric sites were the same price.
Kehr said the increase should be higher, bringing the county even with other area parks.
“You could go to $25 a site easy,” she said. “If you look at the camping reviews, nobody complained about the price.”
The department recently completed a survey of 248 campers.
The rest of the board agreed to raising all electric sites to $25 and leaving non-electric sites at $15. Sites available to be reserved require a $4 transaction fee.
Due to several years without an increase, Preston also recommended increasing pavilion rentals at Swiss Valley Park from $75 to $80 per day.
But department Deputy Director Nate Sisler said that would make renting the large, indoor Swiss Valley Nature Center conference room the same price as a pavilion, which requires more staff hours. So, board members agreed to increasing nature center rentals — for both Swiss Valley and E.B. Lyons — from $75 to $100.
Board members started discussing increases for boat slips at the department’s two marinas as well, but Board Member George Davis asked for the final decision to be tabled so staff could bring one, comprehensive proposal for a vote.
“They have to go up,” he said of prices. “Inflation is going up. Our (cost of) employees are. Let’s just look at this all together.”
The Conservation Board’s next meeting is scheduled for Dec. 20.