Claremont City Council raises rates at community center

Valley News Correspondent
Published: 5/11/2023 10:06:05 PM
Modified: 5/11/2023 10:06:06 PM

CLAREMONT — Despite membership declining for several years at the 10-year-old community center, the City Council supports raising rates with an eye toward increasing revenue and lowering the center’s annual tax subsidy, which is projected at $570,000 for this year.

The new rates, with increases as high as 60% for some categories, will take effect on July 1. Current one-year memberships will remain in effect with the new rates applied at the time of renewal. City Manager Yoshi Manale said anyone who chooses to renew or buy a membership before July 1 can lock in at the current rates for a year.

The council approved the rates unanimously on Wednesday.

Assistant Mayor Deb Matteau, the most vocal proponent of rate increases, insisted that even with higher rates, the center costs members far less than other area facilities.

“I don’t believe, even with the new fees, it is unaffordable for what people get for their money at the facility,” Matteau said, adding that people who don’t use it should not subsidize those who do, similar to the transfer station.

But Mayor Dale Girard and Councilor Nick Koloski expressed some reservations.

Girard said no one disagrees that rates need to increase but said he has heard concerns from residents that the large percentage increase will lead to a decrease in membership.

“My concern is we are going to be having a situation where we might lose 15% to 20% of our membership, and if we lose that, do we gain anything?” Girard said. “How are we going to start bringing people back? I have a tough time with increases as high as they are. The ones (residents) I have heard from is that we are going to lose folks as well.”

Koloski said the council should have had the consultant’s final report in its possession so they “could make an educated decision on the rates.”

The report from consultant Richard Synnott of Active Entities in Massachusetts will be presented to council on May 24. Synnott, who appeared via Zoom at the April 26 council meeting, supported the council’s decision to raise rates more than he recommended.

Councilor Jon Stone, who said he and other councilors tried to get the former director to make operational changes to no avail, said rates have not increased in years but expenses keep going up.

“We don’t make enough money to sustain it,” Stone said.

He compared the increases to any business that raises product costs when overhead increases.

The one-year family (up to four people) is increasing 43%, or $150, to $500, but only if it is paid in full at the start. For those making monthly payments, the increase is 54% to $540. For a non-resident family, increases are 47% to $700 if paid in full and 64% to $780 if paid monthly.

Resident senior passes are increasing 43%. Those who pay monthly with no commitment will pay $69 a month, resident, and $79 a month non-resident. All other rates are increasing between 20% and 40%, with increases also for room rentals.

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at

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