Tarpon Springs center raises its rates
The community center is popular for large gatherings, such as homeowners' association meetings, but now it's a lot more to get a room.
By ASHLEE CLARK
Published July 25, 2006
TARPON SPRINGS - Finding a place to conduct an emergency board meeting is as easy as staking out someone's living room.
But location options begin to thin when the 185-member Brittany Park and Tarpon Trace Homeowners' Association has regular monthly meetings.
For the past five or six years, the group has assembled at the Tarpon Springs community center. And it will probably keep doing so, even as the rental rates for the location increase in a few weeks, association president Chris Pavlou said.
"We're going to have to pay," said Pavlou, 78. "We have no choice. We have no other place to have the meeting."
After more than a decade of stagnant rental rates, the City Commission decided Tuesday night that the rental costs for meeting rooms, which were as low as $16 a year for community groups such as Pavlou's, should increase, though not to the extent that city staff recommended.
Beginning Sept. 1, community service groups will pay $15 per meeting, or $180 a year for monthly meetings, to rent a room at the community center or Craig Park Recreation Center. Rates also changed for private and courtesy rentals, which are once-a-year rentals for city employees and church groups having nonreligious services.
Other changes included increased pay for staff members working at the event, a larger deposit if alcohol is present at the meeting and charging a penalty of double the rental rate for groups that cancel less than a week before their meeting.
The city staff originally proposed a $55 per meeting fee for community groups, amounting to $660 a year for groups with monthly meetings.
That was too drastic for the commission. Commissioner Peter Nehr said it was important to keep rates reasonable for Tarpon Springs residents.
"I am very uncomfortable with going from $16 a year to $660 a year," he said.
The increased rates were determined by costs incurred to the city, said Duffy Smith, a city recreation specialist.
The $16 fee for community groups was an application fee to obtain a meeting room.
The community center is a popular place for group meetings. Mondays are reserved for such meetings and are booked and have a waiting list, Smith said.
These community groups account for 75 percent of rental hours but only 11 percent of the rental revenue, he said. The rest of the revenue comes from courtesy and private rentals.
Gerald Goen, who has been president of the Greater Tarpon Springs Democratic Club for 10 years, said he isn't sure what his 100-member group will do with the increase in rental rates.
"That's quite an increase," said Goen, 72. "That fee has been that fee for as long as I can remember."
The club could probably afford the fee, Goen said, but he doubts smaller organizations can handle it.
"It'll be something that we'll all live with or adjust to and so on, but I wish it were not what it is," he said.
[Last modified July 24, 2006, 20:47:52]
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