YMCA in Youngsville costs Borough

The YMCA branch is providing a valuable service, but is costing Youngsville Borough money.

Value versus cost was a topic of some contention at the borough council meeting Monday.

On one side, the facility “gives an opportunity for the Youngsville area to be fit and to take advantage of what we have to offer,” Borough Manager Lisa Hagberg said.

On the other, the borough is not charging the YMCA to use its building at Island Park. In fact, the borough has been paying the utilities, including phone and internet.

“For the past three months, while the Y was in there, we have been paying the utilities,” she said.

That cost has been $500 per month.

The borough was already paying some of that — heating and light. Only the phone and internet were new, Hagberg said.

“You may end up with a higher electric bill,” Council Member Rick Brewster said. “We were heating it. We were paying it anyway.”

Until the borough’s cost rises dramatically, Brewster said he would like to let the six-month trial play out. “If it goes to $1,200 a month, we’ve got to rethink it,” he said.

The facility has limited offerings, but a variety of exercise equipment, and YMCA staff is offering classes. “They had some more equipment taken over there today,” Hagberg said. “Now it is fully equipped.”

She said the YMCA hoped to find 80 new full-price memberships at the facility in order to “break even.”

Some members of council believe that there should be a discounted rate for those who use the facility.

“The people in Warren are getting a pool and a track and everything,” Council Member Catrina Leamon said.

“If it was free (for the public), I wouldn’t have any problem with it,” Council Member Todd Lake said. “Does the City of Warren pay for their building, electric, and heat? Why are we? I’ll bet there are other non-profits out there that would love a free building, free utilities.”

“I’m absolutely for the Y,” Lake said. “Reduce the price for the constituents of Youngsville. It’s budget time. I think we should be charging rent.”

“There are a lot of people that the cost is an issue,” Brewster said. “Maybe they don’t want all the other accouterments. If they rethink the cost structure, you may find out, instead of 80 full-time memberships, maybe they need 95 part-time. Adjusting that fee, you may get more participation from this part of the community.”

“It is a great asset,” Council Member Troy Clawson said. “I don’t want it to leave because not enough people can utilize it. (But) not everybody has $400” for a membership.

Brewster said the YMCA has more than 20 new members since the facility opened.

“I think we need to give them an opportunity… to give it a shot,” he said. “If it costs them $50,000 or $60,000 to operate down here, their board is going to say, we gave it a shot.”

“I think it’s a huge asset to Youngsville,” Police Chief Todd Mineweaser said. “If it doesn’t pick up, they’re not going to keep it.”

He said that would be unfortunate and people in the community should be supportive of the effort.

“How much do you pay for a cup of coffee? What’s more important, that, or your health?” he said. “If you bash it on Facebook enough, it’s going to go away. You get your wish.”

Brewster asked Hagberg if the borough expects to continue paying the utilities for the building and not charging any rent. She agreed.

Solicitor Tim Bevevino said he is a member of the YMCA board and that the facility would not be in Youngsville without the borough’s support.

“We absolutely wouldn’t have come down if you were charging us rent,” he said.

Mayor Scott Nelson said the borough would still be paying the utilities and not receiving rent on the building if the YMCA weren’t there.

“We’re going to pay for it anyway, whether there’s something in there or not,” he said. “We’re trying to provide some good things for our community.”

“Do you want to sit there and complain about what’s there or do you want to try to make Youngsville better?” Leamon said. “They’re here til May, why can’t we look positively until then?”

“Let’s let it ride,” Council Member Nicole Cowan said. “Memberships may go up in the winter.”

During the discussion, the Brokenstraw Valley Swimming Pool came up.

Council Member Eric Mineweaser referred to a document regarding the pool’s financials.

He said the borough has lost $219,000 on the pool over eight years — an average of $27,000.

“We’re talking about the YMCA?” he said. “We’re losing six figures over eight years with a 10-week swimming pool.”

He said he is glad the pool is part of the community and an option for the people, but “I don’t think we need to be responsible” for a losing proposition.

Brewster said the pool’s monetary losses extend much farther back than eight years. “It has averaged between $18,000 and $63,000 (loss) for 30 years,” he said. “It has never made money. It will never make money.”