Seward City Hall close up

The city council voted on Monday to increase camping fees for city campgrounds. The rate hike was the higher of two proposed by Parks and Recreation Director Tyler Florence, and included higher rates for all campground services during peak season.

Summer rates for connection of water and electricity will go from $40 to $55. The rate hike also includes the establishment of a $65-per-night premium RV tier, which also includes amenities such as highly sought-after spots and more space. Fees for RV parking with no connections will double from $20 a night to $40. Likewise tent camping fees will also double from $10 a night to $20.

Council Members Ristine Casagranda and Sharyl Seese both proposed addenda which would also raise camping fees for winter campers.

“Basically if I was going to heat my house with electric heat, I’d pay about a minimum of $400 a month,” Casagranda said. “My wifi bill would be probably a minimum of $65 a month, and that would be for really slow, painstakingly slow wifi. My water would be $45 a month, and my sewer would be $67 a month, so what I hear is, I’m better off to go get an RV and move down to the campground for the winter and rent my house out.”

Acting City Manager Norm Regis later pointed out that in winter there is no water or sewer connections for campground RVs. Vice Mayor Tony Baclaan argued against the winter hike, claiming that people living in campers on city property in winter are likely already suffering hardships.

“That would be squeezing out a population that is probably disadvantaged already, because they are living in an RV on a campground in the middle of the winter,” Baclaan said. “I’d rather get our revenue from the summer, where that money really does matter, from the people who can afford it, rather than squeezing it from the people who are living the hardest from the hardest time, for whatever reason.” 

The council ultimately voted against the winter rate hikes, with only Council Members Casagranda and Seese voting in favor. The new summer camping rates will take effect in 2021.