Washington Co. park access will require fees in 2018

NOW: Washington Co. park access will require fees in 2018

If you're planning on using a Washington County park in 2018, grab your wallet.

Beginning January 1st, residents will be charged $5 a day, or $30 a year, for a county park sticker. Additional vehicles will cost $20.

Non-residents will have to pay $40 a year, or $5 a day. 

    “No one obviously likes to pay, but if you like going to the parks it’s definitely worth it," says Parks Property Manager Eric Hyde.

The County Board approved the fees earlier this year, hoping to operate the parks without using property tax money.

    “Most voters want lower property taxes, and they’re also willing to make an investment in parks, if that’s something they enjoy doing," says County Administrator Joshua Schoemann. "I think all around it will be a positive thing.”

Similar fees exist in Waukesha County, and at all state parks. 

Schoemann says it's unclear how much revenue the county will generate from the fees, but he's estimating between $75,000 and $100,000 a year in park revenue. 

A portion of that money will be used upfront to install license plate readers at park entrances. Those readers will allow the county to enforce the stickers, without having to pay someone to sit at in a booth or kiosk.

    "We feel like we’ve found some really good innovative technologies to help do that to cut costs and really put a lot of that money into the maintenance of the park and not the enforcement of it," says Hyde. 

Drivers will have 7 days to pay for a pass after using the park. Those who don't could be fined, but Schoemann says they're hoping to avoid that.

    “We’ll do that if we need to do it, but we’re hoping people will be honest brokers, and for the most part in Washington County they are.”

The county says the revenue will allow them to perform necessary maintenance on the 1200 acres of parkland. 

    “All the money that people pay to come into the parks will stay with the parks," says Hyde. 

Fees will be required at the following parks: Heritage Trails, Homestead Hollow, Glacier Hills, Leonard J. Yahr, Sandy Knoll, and Ackerman’s Grove.

To purchase a pass, or for a list of frequently asked questions, click here. 

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