With reluctance the Equestrian Park Management Group has increased the hire fees at the Park.
The need for a review of fees was driven by the increasing cost of maintaining the Park in the face of much heavier use of every part of the facility and Sport and Recreation Services’ pointed hints that if the Park was not charging anything like enough to cover costs it could not expect them to make up the difference with their subsidy. Given that there has not been an increase in hiring costs since 2014 EPMG could hardly disagree with them. The hiring costs have not kept pace in any way with the CPI Index.
Equestrian Park is not run by the government but by a volunteer committee of the ACT Equestrian Association under licence. While the government provides an annual subsidy this disappears in insurance and the cost of mowing responsibilities under the Bushfire Management Plan. EPMG relies on hiring fees and entirely volunteer labour to maintain the Park to competition standard, effect repairs to the grounds and fund improvements to the Park’s facilities and amenities.
In 2022 some part of the Park was booked for an event in some discipline every weekend of every month of the year and private operators were booking arenas for clinics during the week and its not slowing down this year. This success comes with increased wear and tear on the surfaces and the machinery used to maintain them.
At the moment, the majority of income from event hire is being ploughed back into the maintenance of the Park. Machinery fuel costs are enormous and there are increasing new electricity and gas costs associated with the amenities block. Insurance costs are surging, unlike the Parks back up savings. We are also not going to be able to negotiate an increase in our government subsidy while we are not covering our day-to-day costs.
Although the fee increases are not small they are less than the accumulated CPI increase over the last 9 years and can be amortised across club entry fees so that the impost will be much less for individuals.
The Park remains a free public equestrian facility.
The new fees will operate from 1 April 2023.