Innovative Use of Data or Technology – 2019 Winner

By Jeffrey Schmidt

Washington County
Washington County Park Fees

From 2015 to 2018, the Washington County park and trail system budget was reduced by more than $365,000 (30%) as the County implemented priority based budgeting in 2016. As operating costs for park maintenance continued to rise, county administrators looked to park fees as a possible alternative to cutting expenses or raising taxes. To implement such a system, they desired a technological fix that would offer flexibility for payment; require no additional staff in parks; discourage the use of cash; offer natural marketing of locations; and provide data and figures by location. In the end, software was built and license plate readers were installed at parks entrances to scan vehicles, making this technological advancement stand apart from other park fee systems. In 2018, the park and trail system netted $125,000 in new revenue. As a result, dollars spent toward parks increased in 2019 for the first time in five years.