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Pool Fees Will Not Increase for Residents

Some other municipal fees for 2013 will rise, will be determined over next two months.

Membership fees for the Chatham Borough Municipal Pool will remain the same in 2013 for residents, Chatham Borough Council President Jim Lonergan announced during Monday’s meeting.

During a discussion of fees across multiple municipality departments, Lonergan explained that the pool had “pulled a profit” this year, allowing prices to stay at $120 for individuals, $425 for families and $60 for senior citizens.

Prices will increase, though, for non-resident members – up to $175 from $150 for individuals and $105 from $90 for senior citizens.

Mayor Bruce Harris also mentioned that limited membership pool badges – lasting from Aug. 19 to the pool’s seasonal closing – will be offered to residents who may have been away from their homes for most of the summer.

Wait And See

Lonergan said the status of a handful of the fees in question will become certain over the next two months as the finance committee delves more into budget needs for the following year.

For instance, he said it is too early to make a call on sewer fees.

“We look at the overall budget and see how we look in terms of revenue against expenses,” Lonergan said. “As we get deeper into the budget, we will see if we need to get higher on the sewer fee or remain the same.”

Fees Carried Over

The council president explained that residents don’t have to worry about water or parking fees.

Water fees were set last year for two years, and Lonergan said costs are “running pretty much right at budget.”

Similarly, the rate for 2013 parking fees was set in last year’s budget and will be collected this November and December.

“When we go through the budget process for 2013, we will be setting the rates for 2014,” Lonergan said.

He mentioned that train station parking has increased from $350 in 2011 to $385 in 2012 to $425 in 2013.

Recreation Fees

Sports and recreation fees have different factors to consider, Lonergan said, because they are user-based, not tax-based.

To begin with, a family pays a $15 maintenance fee for each child per sport per season. Chatham Borough and Chatham Township pull in roughly $60,000 each year from those fees and use them to maintain and improve the recreation fields and facilities.

“By the end of the year, we’ll know exactly what the costs are for this year,” Lonergan said. “If they’re higher, we’ll [make the fee] higher. If lower, we’ll probably drop the fee.”

He explained that many of the programs are responding to a need or request for more trainers for certain sports.

The soccer programs, for instance, have already added more trainers so that youth athletes can focus on getting better both during the week and on the weekend.

The downside, he said, is that hiring more trainers leads to increased costs.

The council president explained that the recreation advisory committee is responsible for making sure the fees being charged for every individual sport is fair and reasonable.

“We want to make sure the fees are not pricing kids or families out,” he said. “We don’t want to feel like anyone in the Borough or Township can’t join the program.”

Lonergan said many sports had been losing money because they weren’t charging enough to cover the sport, “which is silly,” and some were even charging too much.

To help solve the problem, he said each sport present its own business plan before the season starts to justify why they are charging what the charge.

“If the [cost for each sport] goes up to what we feel is unreasonable, we will tell them to figure out a way to get it back to reasonable,” Lonergan said.

Ron Swanson October 23, 2012 at 07:17 PM
Debt service costs should be factored in when determining whether or not the pool is turning a profit. Fees should move over time to where the pool is truly paying for itself, inclusive of debt service, or the revenue base should be broadened if possible through concessions, advertising, etc.
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