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Wellesley ice rates to jump by 3% next season

Ice rental rates are going up three per cent next season, but not everybody around the Wellesley council table is happy about it.

After some debate Wednesday morning, a split vote led to the decision, which also includes a five per cent increase in arena board advertising rates for the 2014-15 season.

For ice time, that works out to an increase of $4.78 per hour for the hourly prime rental rate, which is expected to bring in an additional $16,000 annually.

Ward 3 Coun. Jim Olender wanted to see the discussion deferred to a future meeting. He said he was put off by the proposal to increase the rates and wanted to discuss it at a committee meeting before bringing it to council.

“The inflation rate is not three per cent,” Olender argued. “That seems to be an arbitrary number. Every time we do an increase it’s three per cent. I do have a problem with that.”

Mayor Ross Kelterborn disagreed.

“If you looked at the deficit there is in recreation … the only reason that I would see to have a committee meeting is the representatives from the different areas would have their input into it,” he said of Olender’s objections.

The township has a deficit of  nearly $600,000 on the recreation side, according to facilities manager Brad Voisin.

“I don’t think there’d be a private business in business if they ran a deficit like we do in recreation,” Kelterborn said.

Coun. Herb Neher, however, shared Olender’s concerns. He questioned why council tends to always round off percentage increases.

“I’m not sure in private business if they just round it off,” Neher said. “I really question that especially when the increase in cost of living is only 1.39 or 1.49 [per cent].”

Neher also questioned why they’re always in a deficit for the recreation budget.

Voisin said expenses continue to increase, especially gas and hydro costs. The township also offers subsidized rates to minor sports groups, meaning they lose money anytime minor sports teams rent their ice and fields. He estimated that policy costs the township some $130,000 each year.

“My biggest thing is comparing to our neighbouring communities,” Voisin said. “We are low compared to anyone in Waterloo Region, but they’re all dealing with new facilities. So I’m trying to look at the level of service and where they are. I do realize there’s a big deficit and I think it’s important to whittle away at it.”

Olender said he’d rather see them charging a cheaper rate to have a group use their facilities than charge the full rate and have them empty.

It will now cost $185.33 per hour of prime time (evenings and weekends) to rent ice at the St. Clements and Wellesley arenas. Non-prime time will be $115.20 per hour. Baseball diamonds for adult games in Wellesley, St. Clements and Linwood will cost $51.42 per game without lights, or $57.54 with lights. Minor baseball will be able to rent the diamonds for $20.82 without lights or $25.71 with lights.

“Three years ago our hydro bills for each arena was around $45,000 to $50,000 per year,” Voisin said. “We’re pushing $80,000 now, per arena.”

Olender and Neher voted against the motion, but it was carried 3-2.

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