Jim Wimmer asked a simple yes-or-no question Friday during a Rec Commission meeting — and he got the answer he expected, though a full answer took more than a “yes” from rec staff.

 

“Does that drop in the Wellness Center mean the (YMCA) is taking some business away?” he asked.

 

He was looking at the budget and revenues. There was a dip in those revenues — and the simple answer to his question was yes. However, behind that simple yes was more of a story.

 

Overall, enrollment at the Wellness Center operated by the Newton Recreation Commission on Poplar Street is down by 38 percent over last year. However, enrollment by senior citizens has increased.

 

“We are still doing OK,” said Brian Bascue, director of the Recreation Commission. “We may not purchase some new equipment as a result. We will just have to see how things go.”

 

And not all of that 38 percent drop can be attributed to competition across town. Some of it can be attributed to an administrative move made by city hall.

 

In January the city decided to end a long-standing agreement with the Recreation Commission. Up until that time, the city gave a lump sum to the commission to subsidize memberships for city employees. As of Jan. 1, the city is no longer giving those funds to the Rec.

 

That led to a 15 percent drop in revenue and enrollments for the Wellness Center.

 

The remaining 23 percent has come over time — and what Bascue credited to the opening of a YMCA on the south side of town.

 

“The numbers we are losing are higher income people,” Bascue said. “We are retaining lower income members. We have to be cognizant of who our future clients are going to be.”

 

In other business the commission:

• Tabled a discussion of possible program fee increases.

• Accepted a bid for a new mower. The new mower will cost $58,500 and was part of a five-year capital improvement plan. It will replace a mower that will be sold.

• Discussed strategic planning. Focus groups will meet April 4.

• Discussed repair work to be done on the stadium at Fischer Field in Athletic Park. Work is to begin next week.