LAWTON, Okla._Those wanting to camp at Lake Lawtonka or Lake Ellsworth can expect to pay a little more starting July 1.
The city decided to increase the overnight camping fee by $5. Preferred sites will be $20 dollars, non-preferred will be $17 and $13 for the handicap discount. The rates for primitive sites that don't offer electricity won't change.
The utilities and maintenance costs have burned too big of a hole in the city's finances. These include reports of damaged toilets and hand dispensers, to needing the everyday roll of toilet paper. Lake supervisor Jim Bonnarens summed it up by saying it's time.
The Lawton lakes haven't increased camping fees in about seven years. Bonnarens says the prices at the lake were outdated.
"The council did a great thing by bringing us to what I would say is current. You look around the area from Waurika to Fort Cobb, Tom Steed. We're not the highest even with the increase, but we were definitely the lowest," said Bonnarens.
Bonnarens says he is expecting people to be upset with the price hike, but says there's no way around it.
"Nobody likes to pay more, I mean I don't like to pay more at the grocery store, but it is what it is. The nice part about the recreation is it's not mandatory. If you don't, or can't absorb that extra cost, by all means I wouldn't use it," said Bonnarens.
Bonnarens says some of the daily fees, including boating and fishing permits, will not change as a result of the increase. He knows how important the lakes are to the city's economy, especially in the summer months. He says getting these finances in order now could clear up some budget issues.
"Again, it's not that we're making money, we're trying to offset some of the fees we've incurred," said Bonnarens,