People wanting to participate in Bastrop’s city-run fitness and recreation programming will soon have to pay to participate in activities, exercise classes and other events.
Beginning in April, Bastrop will enter into Phase Two of its city-run recreational programming, which will come with a pilot registration and membership process as well as required payment from anyone interested participating in the city’s fitness and recreational programming.
The Bastrop City Council during its March 9 meeting approved a payment structure for Phase Two of its plan, which will last until the end of September.
The monthly cost to participate in the program will be $30 for a city resident and $35 for anyone who resides outside the city limits. Families who live in the city can sign up for $50 and families who are nonresidents will pay $55 per month. Seniors who live in the city will be charged $20 and those who live outside the city will pay $25.
City employees will be charged $20, or $40 for an employee’s family, to participate in the programming.
The city began providing fitness and recreational programming free of charge at the start of January after the Bastrop YMCA discontinued operations and programming in December. The city implemented a three-phase plan to provide fitness and recreational programming, which includes adding user fees.
Getting off the ground
The initial phase of the city’s fitness and recreation plan, which will last until the end of March, currently comprises fitness classes and an open gym available to the public at no cost. According to a memo by City Manager Paul Hofmann to the City Council, Phase One was designed to provide an easy transition for former YMCA members.
To kick off Phase One, Hofmann said the city started online registration, contracted instructors, hired temporary staff members and entered into a pair of six-month leases at Downtown properties at 1109 Main St. and 1112 Main St. to provide the programming.
The leases of the two facilities expire at the end of June, and the monthly cost of the leases is $1,900.
For January and February, Hofmann said 619 people participated in fitness classes offered Monday through Saturday, with an average class size of six people. Hofmann said this was double the average fitness class size compared to classes offered by the Bastrop YMCA.
Combined, the fitness programming and open gym the city provides averages 17 people per day, with registration showing about half of those participants are previously registered Bastrop YMCA members and half are new participants.
Phase Two will begin in April and continue until Sept. 30, when the current fiscal year ends. The city would continue to contract fitness class instructors while implementing a pilot registration and membership process.
This phase is when user fees will be added.
During the March 9 meeting, Council Member Lyle Nelson asked for reduced fees for veterans and people with disabilities, and Hofmann agreed to implement those fee changes.
In December, the council said city-run fitness and recreational programming should avoid competing with private fitness program providers. At the March council meeting, Hofmann said private fitness providers’ monthly membership fees helped guide the fee structure for the city’s programming for Phase Two.
Hofmann said city representatives met with private-sector fitness providers in the city, and no concerns were raised about the city’s plans.
Hofmann also said there’s an opportunity for people with a membership to city-run fitness and recreational programming to possibly get discounted rates for participation in other youth-oriented programming such as sports clinics and family wellness programs in the city.
Hofmann said the city is also exploring a partnership with the Bastrop Opera House to offer city fitness and recreational program members a discounted registration for the Bastrop Youth Performing Arts Academy.
“This is a way we’re trying to build interest and value in the city of Bastrop recreation membership,” Hofmann explained.
Paying for city-run services
The city has a budget of $37,500 to cover the cost of fitness and recreational programming through Sept. 30.
Total combined expenses for the city from Phase One and Phase Two are estimated to be $44,250, meaning revenue generated from the fitness and recreational programming needs to amount to $7,000 for the city to break even.
Hofmann estimated that with the approved payment structure, if 20 resident individuals, 20 non-resident individuals, 10 resident families and 10 non-resident families join the program each month for the six months in Phase Two, the city will generate about $14,100.
Hofmann’s estimation doesn’t account for discounted memberships.
“I think that’s pretty conservative, frankly if we can’t make $7,000 in revenue then perhaps we rethink the whole thing,” he said.
With the two Main Street property leases set to expire at the end of June, Hofmann said the plan is to make a city-owned building at 1008 Water St. available for programming beginning in July.
For this location to be usable, the building’s HVAC system would need to be replaced and a basic security system would need to be installed.
Hofmann estimated the improvements would cost $12,000, which would be absorbed within Bastrop’s general fund budget.
The cost of upgrading the Water Street property was not included in the city’s estimated costs for Phase One and Phase Two programming because Hofmann said that over time the benefit of avoiding continued rent payments for facilities will pay for the upgrades.
Other potential locations that may house fitness and recreational programming activities in the future are the Bastrop Community Senior Center and the Kerr Community Center.
Hofmann also said the YMCA of Austin informed the city it would not be providing services at the Bastrop State Park pool this year.
“We are in discussions with the officials at Bastrop State Park and we are hopeful that those discussions will culminate in the park’s decision to operate the pool this summer,” he said. “I believe that they are close to a decision and I am optimistic about all of that.”
Hofmann has asked the YMCA of Austin to return a $7,500 advance payment the city made to the organization as part of its pool services contract.
Bastrop plans to support the state park’s efforts to operate the pool this summer by using previously designated funds from the city budget and by approaching other cities in Bastrop County whose residents use the pool and asking them for assistance.
Phase Three of Bastrop’s fitness and recreational programming would begin in October at the start of the 2021-22 fiscal year.
Hofmann told the council a dedicated staff member would be needed to administer and oversee recreational programming next fiscal year as part of Phase Three, but the position is not currently funded in the city’s budget.
Council Member Dock Jackson, who has previous professional experience running recreational programming for the cities of Austin and Elgin, said he is pleased the city has created a solution to the fitness and recreation programming void left by the Bastrop YMCA.
“We’ve gone from losing the Y and the transitional period and now trying to get into recouping some fees and things and keep the interest going,” Jackson said. “I hope this is something we can continue because I think the citizens really will appreciate this program.”