Rate increase upsets campers at Sullivan County Park and Lake

The Sullivan County Park and Lake officially raised permanent camping

rates by $60 a month effective next year during a sparsely populated

June meeting board meeting.

Fast forward to Tuesday, when a very large contingent of campers

turned out to express their displeasure with the rise in rates during

the July board meeting

"We had roughly 40 people at our meeting (Tuesday) morning and we

usually have nobody there," board president Dewey Collins stated.

"Only time that anyone comes is when they've got a complaint or

something, really.

"But it was a good meeting, everybody was civil. Nobody got out of

line or anything like that. There was some questions asked by the

campers. I'm not sure they got all the answers they need."

The board had approved the rate increase in a 4-1 vote in June -- Reed

Usrey, Diana Conner, Katie Harrison and Lynn Hamilton voting in favor,

with Collins casting the lone dissenting vote.

Questions raised by the campers centered on why such a large increase.

"It wasn't me, but one of the other board members had asked for a $60

a month increase, effective the first of the year on the permanent

campsites," Collins said. "I didn't want to vote for that much. I

thought it should be a smaller amount and spread across the board,

like a 10% increase on everything. But that didn't fly very well."

Collins said that while the $60 a month increase was approved, he

plans to bring it up again for reconsideration at their August board

meeting.

"Hopefully, we can hammer something out," he said.

One of the reasons given for the increase, according to Collins, was

to give the SCPL employees a pay increase.

"it was a four-hour meeting with a lot of discussion," he said. "A lot

of questions about it."

One camper said in a telephone call to the Times on Monday morning

that she heard this increase would be implemented this year and each

of the next two years.

Conner confirmed that the increase was for next year only.

"That's when it got out of hand, when somebody said we were going to

do this for each of the next three years," she said. "And it's not

true. We've not made any decisions on the years after that."

Collins said the $60 rate increase would equate to roughly a 20%

increase for campers.

"Several of the campers said an increase of $15 or $20 would be a

reasonable amount," he said. "But $60 in a lump sum all at once is a

little radical. And I agree with that. But that's one man's opinion."

Usrey made the proposal for the price increase, Collins said.

"I'm not against a price increase," Collins said. "I think we need a

price increase. I don't think it should be $60. That's a lot of

money."

Collins added some campers said they would leave, and said a couple

have already left.

"We heard from the campers and valued their opinion, heard their

voices," Conner said, also stating a possibility of a lower rate could

be up for consideration at the August meeting.

Conner explained the board is looking at the total picture, the

history and future of the Park and Lake. She said the Park and Lake

opened in the 1960s, that camper units were smaller, electricity needs

have increased and the Park and Lake is trying to catch up.

"The board wants to have us be in a good place to have a good park in

25 and 50 years from now," she said. "If we don't do that, the needs

of the park won't be met and they will have a tough time going forward

in the future. We need to have our revenues where they need to be (in

the future)."

Conner said the the Park and Lake's current fees are lower than most

state parks and other parks in Indiana.

"Not grossly, but to some extent that we needed to think about

(raising rates) seriously," she said.

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