Rec fees rising in Morgan Hill?

Starting in July, it might get mildly more expensive to use Morgan Hill’s recreation facilities, but city staff say the increased use fees are needed to keep the buildings maintained and add more options.

And at least to some frequent users of the heavily-trafficked Centennial Recreation Center, the higher costs won’t have a significant on their own pockets.

As part of the city’s budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1, fees for monthly memberships to the CRC and Aquatics Center, hourly pool lane fees, daily use fees and facility rental fees are recommended to be increased.

The expenses to run the facilities and employ their staff are expected to go up, and the increase to the users’ cost is designed to offset those expenses, according to Morgan Hill community services director Steve Rymer. 

Specifically, expenses in the budget for janitorial services and supplies, equipment repair and replacement, and general building repair are expected to rise by $162,000, according to city staff. The city’s costs for workers compensation, liability insurance and information services are projected to go up another $109,000.

The proposed rate increases are projected to raise an additional $161,400 in revenue in the 2012-2013 fiscal year, city staff said. Total revenue expected in the recreation and community services department for the year is about $5.4 million. 

The increase likely to affect the most people, if the city council approves them as part of the overall budget, is the monthly membership rate increase. There are currently about 13,500 members of the CRC and Aquatics Center who can use the two facilities as much as they want by paying either an individual or family membership fee. 

Monthly membership costs have not gone up since 2008, Rymer said. 

Rymer added the additional revenue will help the city keep up with “wear and tear” on the CRC and Aquatics Center, and increase the hours of staffed programs and classes at both facilities. 

“The city council has invested a significant amount of money in projects over the last couple year, including the expansion of the fitness center,” which added 2,000 square feet to the CRC gym in 2010, at a cost of about $1.2 million, Rymer explained. 

“In order to meet the needs of existing customers and additional members, we’ve brought in more programs,” said Rymer. One of the biggest requests among current members is for expanded program hours, he added. 

Members contacted outside the CRC last week said they would be able to pay the increased monthly fees, and wouldn’t mind paying it. 

Dominic Bejarano, Rachel Bliss and their two children, ages 5 and 6, use the CRC about five days a week. Bejarano said the extra $4 a month, or $48 a year wouldn’t have a “huge impact” on the Morgan Hill family, and it wouldn’t deter from using the city’s recreation facilities. 

The facility has something for everybody in the family including standard exercise equipment, plus swimming, fitness classes and basketball courts. Plus, the monthly fee gives all members access to the city’s Aquatics Center on Condit Road, which Bejarano described as an “added bonus,” as they plan to use that facility as well this summer. 

The CRC also has free childcare, which many private gyms do not have, Bejarano said. 

“If it’s going to help with the facilities, I’ll pay” the increased monthly fee, Rachel Bliss said. “It’s a safe place, and they have great classes.” 

Although another member, Bob Ford, 49 of Morgan Hill, thinks $3 a month added to his individual monthly fee of $55 might be “a little high,” it might be worth it if the added cost adds equally to the quality of the facility and the programs.

“If they can justify it, I don’t might the increased price,” said Ford, who has been a CRC member for about a year, and uses the facility about four days a week. 

Another member, Stephanie Polcer, 29 of Morgan Hill, said the membership fees for the city’s facilities are “already expensive,” but it’s unlikely that an extra $3 or $4 per month would chase current members away. 

That includes her, as Polcer prefers the atmosphere of the CRC to privately owned gyms in town. She uses the CRC about six days a week. 

“It has more of a family atmosphere, and a lot of regulars,” Polcer said. 

And even though Jenny Garcia of Morgan Hill, just signed up last week, thinks the proposed monthly fee of $90 for residents is “still worth it.” 

All seven of her children will likely continue to use the CRC, and will probably make use of the Aquatics Center which opened June 2 for the summer season. 

“My boys were already coming here and paying the daily fee, so this is still cheaper,” said Garcia of the monthly family membership.

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