HANSON — The Board of Selectmen, on Tuesday, Dec. 14 voted to accept recommended rate increases for facility rentals at Camp Kiwanee and Needles Lodge.
Recreation Commission Vice Chairman Audrey Flanagan described that panel’s recommendation to Selectmen, and said the commission voted Dec. 1 to set the new wedding rate at $7,500, effective immediately upon the Selectmen’s approval.
“We looked at a couple of different numbers, and $7,500 is what made sense based on our yearly budget goal,” she said.
The additional income brings the annual bottom line to $373,250 — in line with their budget goals. The weekly operating cost for Camp Kiwanee is $5,096.15 not including insurance.
“I actually don’t know the date of the last time that we raised our rates, but it’s probably been close to 10 years since the rates at Camp Kiwanee have been reviewed and updated,” Flanagan said.
She presented current rates, recommended increases and where the commission would stand regarding camp operations if they did not make a change.
Flanagan said the commission’s budget goal is $350,000 a year, with projections for revenue expected this year bringing in $306,000.
The average rental fee is now $4,000 for a wedding, with an additional $500 charged for wedding members to camp in the south end of the facility.
There are already 56 weddings booked for fiscal 2023, which is a higher number than average number of 40 wedding bookings, because several were rescheduled due to COVID restrictions last year, with 34 dates for weddingsstill available for booking in fiscal 2023, according to Flanagan.
The data used for determining rate changes was based on a 40-wedding year.
“We’re not going to book all of those,” she said. “Realistically, maybe another 15 could come through. … So, leaving the rates where they are should bring in an additional $60,000 this year.”
Combined with the 56 dates already booked, income from weddings next year would be about $212,000. The commission also pulls in about 20 percent of the bar service at events — which averages about $2,500 per month. Bar service fees are out for bud right now, Flanagan said.
Weddings in which the ceremony is held elsewhere takes $500 off the rate.
There are 57 available dates for wedding bookings in fiscal 2024, which is when the commission hopes the rate increases are anticipated. Without the increases, Flanagan said they expect to be $194,000 “way under” their ideal budget.
With a $7,500 wedding fee and an increase to $1,000 for south end camping for wedding party members, “sort of brings us more in line with what we are charging.”
Selectman Laura FitzGerald-Kemmett asked if any kind of survey was done and if the commission was certain they could get $7,5000 for wedding bookings.
“It’s very hard to find an apples-to-apples [comparison] to Kiwannee,” Flanagan said. “The closest one that we found was — there was a campground in Vermont — but the closest one we found was Camp Wing in Duxbury, and they’re charging for a comparable weekend, $15,000.”
Catering is not included in the Camp Wing figure.
“These fees make sense to me,” FitzGerald-Kemmett said. “It’s overdue.”
“We talked about this a couple years ago and we never did anything,” Selectmen Vice Chairman Kenny Mitchell said.
Flanagan said a kitchen fee charged to the caterer is also being sought.
In other business, IT Director Steve Moberg outlined new Town Hall security protocols, including badges for entry purposes and photo identification and security cameras outside the building.
“I’m looking to get IT badges for all the town employees for identification purposes,” Moberg said. “The planner goes on site [they] can show who they are — same with our health agent, [and] anyone else who goes on site. Plus, around the Town Hall, people can be identified.”
The approximately $2,300 printer and badges have already been purchased, according to Moberg, with an eye to beginning the creation and disbursement of the badges after the first of the year.
The board voted to support the ID badges.
“It’s really kind of shocking that we haven’t had them up until this point, to be honest with you,” FitzGerald-Kemmett said. “So I think that’s great, Steve.”
The badges are not the same as those used by public safety and school district personnel, but there are discussions underway to changing everything over to one system.
Fiber optic lines are in place for modernizing the phone system by connecting all the buildings, but the phones themselves have not yet as Moberg reviews some of the phones.
He is also awaiting quotes on security cameras, he said.
“There’s an extremely large shortage of cameras going across all different vendors that I’ve reached out to,” Moberg said. “I haven’t even gotten a quote yet.”
Most camera brands are made in Asia and supply chain problems stemming from a boost in internet buying during the pandemic has created bottlenecks at ports.
A small, consumer-based camera has already been placed behid the building to help identify the person(s) who have been dumping behind Town Hall.