Analysis – 09 Covering Collection Costs

Analysis of the National Park Service Recreation Fee System, June 1977

 5D. Covering Collection Costs


The method of calculating fee collection costs vary from park to park. There are no standard guidelines used for calculating costs. This has resulted In difficulties in determining how much revenue should be returned to parks to cover costs. Thus, some parks may be receiving more than enough, others less. For those parks which receive less than enough to cover costs, fee collection is a burden.

A number of changes have been suggested which would alleviate this burden or even provide a positive incentive to collect fees. These suggestions range from covering collection costs to returning all money collected to the parks which collect it. One suggestion is that a portion (e.g., 50%) of the fees collected be returned to fee parks with the remainder to be used for Servicewide needs.


The Service should establish standards for determining collection costs and then guarantee reimbursement for all these costs. Such standards would ensure that all parks were using the same method when determining fee collection costs. Guaranteeing a fair reimbursement would assure that fee collection is not a burden to other park programs.

The Service has serious reservations about the feasibility of returning fee revenue to parks on any arbitrary basis. Such a system fails to take into account several important factors:

  1. It would allocate money to parks without regard to need.
  2. It would favor the large parks, which now collect the most fees over the recently authorized areas where the need is greatest.
  3. If fees were returned on a proportional basis, the amount returned would not necessarily cover the cost of new collection activities.

These drawbacks severely limit the usefulness of this optional method of returning fee revenue. If the policy objective is to collect more revenue equitably, then recommendations contained in this paper would accomplish that objective more effectively than would returning fees on a proportional basis.


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