- Written by Susanna Sheehan
- Published: 02 July 2014
The town raised fees this week on a variety of services including birth, marriage, and death records, dog and kennel licenses, field usage, and town room rentals.
On Monday, the Board of Selectmen unanimously approved fee increases for the following departments: town clerk, council on aging and the recreation department including the municipal Percy Walker pool. They postponed a scheduled hearing on fire department fees until July 21.
The fee increases became effective July 1.
Almost all the 55 categories of pool fees rose five percent, although there were some exceptions. The last increase was in 2012, according to Recreation Director Gordon Cushing.
“I am recommending a general increase of approximately five percent across the board,” stated Cushing in a memo. “The reason I use approximately is due to the fact that we are rounding up or down within each category so that patrons and staff are not dealing with increments of cents instead of dollars.”
Both Duxbury residents and non-residents can expect to pay more to use the pool.
An annual resident family pool membership fee is now $555, up $30. A resident individual adult annual membership increased $20 to $430, and a resident senior individual adult membership rose $15 to $245.
A non-resident annual family membership increased $45 to $925; a non-resident individual annual membership is now $485, up $25; and a non-resident senior individual membership increased $20 to $350.
Some fees did not increase because Cushing feels these items are close to the top of the price range for the market. They include the daily fee for adults and children, which are $7 and $5 respectively; the cost of pool parties, which stay at $190 per hour; the cost of lane rentals, which remain at $30 an hour; and the price of swim meet rentals, which will stay at $200 per hour. There is also no change in the cost of aqua fitness classes.
Cushing estimated that the increases in fees could bring up to $15,000 in revenue to the pool’s fund.
Selectmen wondered about the pool’s ability to be financially self-sustaining, as it is funded through an enterprise account. With this, money generated by the pool pays for its expenses. Finance Director John Madden said the pool essentially broke even last year, only showing a minor profit of $4,000.
Cushing is hoping for more revenue in the future to be able to save for pool capital expenses.
He also asked for fee increases for the town’s baseball fields and multi-use fields for both for-profit organizations and non-resident and mixed resident baseball leagues. These price hikes range from $50 to $300. The hourly cost of using the lights at the Chandler baseball field also rose from $40 to $45 an hour. In-town league field use also went up $2 to $7 per person.
The last time the town increased fees for field use was in 1994, said Cushing.
The cost to rent space at both the Tarkiln Community Center and the senior center also increased.
Under the direction of the Recreation Department, the Tarkiln Community Center is used by town organizations for a variety of activities and meetings. Rental fees have not increased since the building re-opened after a restoration in 2010.
The 12 categories of Tarkiln rental rates increased by $5 with one exception - renting the entire building, which rose by $20. Renting either of the two main halls in the historic old school house is now $40 for the first three hours and $15 per hour afterwards. Renting the entire building now costs $125 per three hours and $35 for each additional hour.
Selectmen asked whether this building could be self- sustaining. Cushing said it was on its way: Tarkiln’s budget is $16,000 and it takes in approximately $12,000 in revenue.
“We’re getting really close to breaking even,” he said, adding that he expects to see another $8,200 in revenues from Tarkiln and the field use price hikes if usage stays the same.
The Council on Aging is not increasing the room rental fees but it is instituting a charge of $140, which represents a minimum of four hours for a custodian at $35 an hour. Angela Sinnott, program manager of the COA, said the new custodial charge is similar to the fee charged by the schools for their room usage. She noted that the prices for room rentals have not changed since 2008 but have netted $5,868 to date for fiscal 2014. The senior center was used 298 times for evening committee meetings, rentals and programs in fiscal 2013.
Town Clerk Susan Kelley requested a small increase in the price of birth, death, and marriage licenses in anticipation of being able to offer them to the public online. The town will charge an extra $1.50 to cover postage and handling for these vital records; there is no increase for obtaining them at the town hall. They cost $10 each and have not had a price increase since 2008.
Kelley also sought fee hikes in dog and kennel li- censes. Dog licenses increased $2 to $12 for neutered/spayed dogs and $17 for intact dogs. This increase is in anticipation of selling dog licenses on-line in the near future.
A personal kennel license, often used by dog breeders, will increase to $45 for a facility with four to nine dogs. A new category for a kennel housing 10 or more dogs has an $100 annual fee.
Kelley recommended another new kennel category as well. Called a commercial kennel, it applies to residents who board dogs or keep them on their property, for a doggie day care, as example. This fee was set at $100 per year.