PITTSFIELD, Maine — Town councilors soon will deal with the touchy issue of whether to charge a fee for what has always been free — the swim program at the town’s pool.
Around town the grumblings are clear: Town donations built the pool.
Fundraising cans are still prominent around town, collecting donations. Some residents are wondering why they should have to pay a second time with a per-swim fee.
It appears that most of the councilors agree with that stand.
At a recent swimming pool committee meeting, three members agreed to charge a fee for both lessons and public swim times. Town Manager Kathryn Ruth said she would study the operating costs of the pool and bring a fee schedule back to the group on April 6 — one day before the Town Council will hear the proposal.
“I don’t want to charge a fee, but I guess we will have to,” said Paul Bertrand, chairman of the committee.
But Councilor Wayne Fotter said he objected very much to a fee. “This has come before [the council] before and we told them no,” he said Monday.
The idea of a fee was brought to the council in July 2008, when the newly constructed pool was opened. Ruth said the pool committee had recommended 25 cents per visitor.
At that meeting, however, the council objected to the fee. When Ruth suggested it could be a donation, the council disagreed with that as well.
“I do not want to have the kids pay,” Fotter said this week. “We have a lot of poor people in this town. If we charge a fee, those children will not be able to go to the pool.”
Councilors Christopher Carr and Donna Chale also agreed that a fee should not be assessed.
Councilor Gary Jordan said this week that he would like to see the full accounting of predicted operating costs for the pool before makes a decision. “If it is going to be more efficient [than the old pool], then we probably should not charge,” he said. “But I would need to see the figures first.”
The fee issue is expected to be on the council agenda for their April 7 meeting.