Newspaper Article Archive of
The Kalona News
Kalona, Iowa

Newspaper Article Archive of
The Kalona News

September 13, 2018 Kalona residents get break on YMCA fees
Article Pages -- as published on the The Kalona News website.

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After attending the open house of the Kalona Community Building and YMCA on Aug. 25, many people asked me how it was being funded and how the operating costs are being paid.

Kalona City Administrator Ryan Schlabaugh said that the cost of the building and the exercise equipment was $5.4 million. The bond issue, approved by Kalona residents, was for $3.9 million. The remaining, $1.5 million was paid for from grants (Enhance Iowa, Washington County Riverboat Foundation municipal funds, and Riverboat Foundation competitive grants).

Kalona property owners pay $1.66 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. This is assessed annually for the next 20 years. If you own property valued at $200,000 assessed value (residential, commercial, industrial, ag and multi-purpose), the yearly increase to service bond debt, would be $184.68 per year or $15.39 per month.

The city owns the building and has worked out a three-year contract with the Washington County YMCA to manage the facility. The contract calls for the city to pay the YMCA $3,750 per month for programming, staffing and facilities management.

Prior to the opening of the new recreational facility, there were 497 members. Since the opening, there has been a nice spike in membership.

As of this week, there are 732 members of which 628 members (single and family with multiple users) are paying the Kalona resident membership fees, according to Amy Schulte, CEO of the YMCA of Washington County. Schulte said that since the opening of the Kalona center, there have been more than 1,000 scans of entry keys to use the Kalona facility.

Schlabaugh said that the YMCA staff is responsible for the custodial work. Those staffers are shared proportionately with the Wellman Parkside Center YMCA. The electrical and gas bill is charged to the city, but the city charges back the YMCA on a per square foot basis.

Under the current contract, the YMCA collects all membership fees, but the Kalona City Council controls what the membership fees are for residents within the city limits. Residents living just outside the city, pay the full countywide rate. However, this membership allows them to use all the facilities of the Y in Washington, Wellman and Kalona.

The discounted Kalona membership fee allows only the use of the Kalona facility.

Schlabaugh noted that as the city grows with more homes, businesses and industry, the cost for the individual taxpayer is likely to decrease, as the tax levy will be spread over a larger valuation.

Schlabaugh said all properties in the city pay a debt levy currently at $1.66 per $l,000 taxable valuation toward the bond issue.

The City Council has decided to give a special Kalona rate to Kalona residents whether they own property or rent. The reasoning for that is Kalona residents are already paying toward the building’s debt through their taxes. They reason that those who do not own property pay the tax through their rent.

However, if you do not live in Kalona, but own a business and the commercial property, you are not eligible for the Kalona rate because your primary residence is not within the corporate limits.

Schlabaugh stressed that the residential rate based on your primary residence is not something that is new.

“We have utilized the multiple-rate structure well before the YMCA took over programming and management responsibilities,” he said. “This included the old community center and is still utilized for the Kalona pool.”

I think that is great that the Kalona City Council is making sure Kalona residents get a break on their YMCA dues by having a reduced “Kalona only” rate.

Personally, I think the Kalona City Council should revisit this policy so businesses that are paying taxes for the debt on the building can get the “Kalona rate” should they want to exercise during their noon hour or after work.

This is not a substantial number of people, so it wouldn’t break the city or YMCA to treat these property owners who pay more in taxes than do renters.

This would be a nice perk to give out-of-town people who have invested in Kalona property and contribute to the city’s economy.

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