Commission Considers Membership Fees for New Calabasas Senior Center.

Dana & Jeff


As construction continues on a new senior center behind the Calabasas Civic Center, officials are discussing different financial options for the 9,500-squarefoot, city-owned enterprise.

The $4.5-million building will include activity and multipurpose rooms, a kitchen, a sports and game room and an outside deck. It will provide a gathering place for the city’s older residents.

At a meeting last month, the Parks, Recreation and Education Commission considered more than a dozen options for membership fees. Commissioners hope the fees will cover the cost of operating the facility.

Estimates show the city will spend about $680,000 to run the center. Of that amount, $410,000 will go to employees: a full-time supervisor, a coordinator, an executive assistant, a maintenance person and part-time staff members.

The city also estimates program and class fees will bring in about $200,000 a year. Facility rentals, drop-in fees and charges for tournaments and other activities will contribute another $35,000.

Without membership fees, the senior center will operate at a $447,000 annual shortfall.

The commissioners agreed the city should charge a monthly fee of $25 a person and $45 for couples. People who live outside the city would pay $35 and $65.

“I like the idea of having a . . . membership fee. It just creates a more steady revenue source,” Commissioner Charlotte Meyer said.

Member benefits would include priority registration and reduced fees for programs and classes. Members would have unlimited access to the facility when it’s open and receive six guest passes a year. In addition to discounted rates on facility rentals, members would be eligible to join programming committees and attend membership socials at no charge.

With 600 members—half of them coming from out of town— the fees would generate $210,000 in yearly revenue, still leaving a $260,000 annual shortfall.

“I think we need to be fiscally responsible and try to close that gap as much as we can,” Jeff Rubin, Calabasas director of community services, told the commission.

“To what amount the city will want to subsidize the senior center is still unknown,” Rubin said.

The city is working with an advisory board to develop classes, activities and resources that encourage an active lifestyle for seniors. The building is slated to be completed next May or June. A membership drive is set to begin early next year.

About 1,300 people currently participate in Savvy Senior programs offered at various locations in Calabasas. Many of them come from nearby Woodland Hills and West Hills.

“We want everybody to take our programs,” Rubin said, adding that Calabasas residents should have priority.
Ed Albrecht, a member of the Calabasas senior advisory committee, said the membership fee structure is a good starting point.

While he anticipates the new senior center will be a success, Albrecht said, there are many unknowns, such as the type of services that will be provided at the facility and parking accessibility.

“A lot of work went into this. We’re flying blind in a lot of ways. . . . There is so many blanks we don’t have answers for,” Albrecht said.

Making sure the city has enough money to run the center and support programs for older adults is one of the leading themes in the 2015 City Council election. The three candidates in the race say they will make the needs of seniors a priority.


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