Merriam sets membership fees, daily rates for new community center

The new Merriam Community Center cannot open to the public without three critical construction elements, which have yet to be delivered due to COVID-19 impacts. This will set the community center opening back by three weeks, according to city staff. 

The Merriam city council on Monday evening approved membership fees — including household, day passes, and non-residential fees — for the new Merriam Community Center. Below are the rates the city council approved, for Merriam residents and non-residents:

Merriam residents

  • Household (two adults and up to four children): $660 annually, or $60 monthly and $200 for the summer
  • Two-person household (at least one person 18-years or older in the same house): $595 annually, or $55 monthly; $185 for the summer
  • Senior household (two adults, one at least 60-years old): $530 annually, or $50 monthly; $160 for the summer
  • Adult: $400 annually, or $40 monthly; $130 for the summer
  • Seniors and youth: $330 annually, or $30 monthly; $110 for the summer
  • Additional members: $110 annually, or $10 a monthly; $30 for the summer

Non-Merriam Residents

  • Household: $825 annually, or $75 monthly; $250 for the summer
  • Two-person household: $745 annually, or $70 monthly; $225 for the summer
  • Senior household: $660 annually, or $60 monthly; $200 for the summer
  • Adult: $495 annually, or $45 monthly; $155 for the summer
  • Senior and youth: $415 annually, or $40 monthly; $130 for the summer
  • Additional members: $140 annually, or $11 monthly; $40 for the summer

Children under 2-years-old get in for free, and day pass fees will be $9 for residents and $11 for non-residents. There is also an option to purchase a charter membership prior to June 1, with the perk of getting two months free.

Parks and Recreation Director Anna Slocum said additional benefits of the charter membership will be decided alongside the Parks and Rec Board. Below are the fees associated with the charter membership, which are all annual rates:

  • Household: $540 for Merriam residents, $675 for non-residents
  • Two-person household: $490 for Merriam residents, $610 for non-residents
  • Senior household: $430 for Merriam residents, $540 for non-residents
  • Adult: $325 for Merriam residents, $405 for non-residents
  • Senior and youth: $270 for Merriam residents, $340 for non-residents
  • Additional members: $90 for Merriam residents, $115 for non-residents

Although the city originally proposed a base rate fee of $45 (or $540 annually), inflation and two budget factors caused that rate to increase, Slocum said. The adjustment to 2020 dollars, as opposed to the original 2016 dollars, calls for a 3% annual increase for the cost of goods and services, which amounts to approximately $100,000. Additionally, “the average rate of pay for a part-time position has increased” by $2.25 per hour, which comes to another $100,000.

Merriam resident Billy Croan said the city council should start a membership fee out at $45, since that was the originally proposed rate. Croan offered the city council potential solutions if the $45 rate were implemented, such as cutting operational expenses or increasing the membership fee annually to account for inflation.

On a similar note, Councilmember David Neal said he believes the city council has “an obligation to make this broad based.” Neal said if the higher rate were approved it may not hit its membership number goal, and the city should get people excited and in the door with a lower rate. Additionally, he said if the city finds it needs to raise membership fees after approving a lower rate, that would be understandable and acceptable.

Councilmember Bruce Kaldahl asked Slocum if it would be possible to extend the period for purchasing a charter membership, which is $45 monthly when broken down, to 30 days after the opening of the facility. Slocum said it would be reasonable, but that the selling point of a charter membership is the two months free perk and therefore, the benefits would look different.

Councilmember Chris Evans Hands — who had suggested motioning for the higher rate first and if it didn’t pass, to work their way down — motioned to approve the highest rate, or option A. Neal was the sole councilmember to vote against the motion, and said he thinks the city should start with a lower rate to broaden its potential base.