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Charles Ford, of Kemp, speaks on behalf of Unit 225 of the American Contract Bridge League. The group holds monthly games at the Tyler Senior Center on Garden Valley Road. (Erin Mansfield/Tyler Morning Telegraph)

Members of a local bridge club say proposed fee increases for renting space at the Tyler Senior Center would be too expensive and lead fewer people to play their monthly games.

At a City Council hearing Wednesday on the proposed fiscal year 2020 budget, two people from Unit 225 of the American Contract Bridge League asked the City Council to reconsider the price increases.

Charles Ford, of Kemp, said the monthly bridge games attract about 42 people to the senior center on Garden Valley Road. He said the people come from places as far as Canton, Longview and Pittsburg. The group is a nonprofit, and board members are not paid for their time, he said.

“We charge $9 per person, and we’ve had to go up on that for the last couple years,” Ford said. “And we have found that every time we’ve gone up on the price per game, we’ve lost people that come. We’re directly affected by any increase at all.”

“And also, at the senior center, we have a storage space that we’ve been using there. We never thought there was a problem because nobody was using it. And it’s proposed now that we also pay a storage fee there. The unit can’t afford it.”

City Manager Ed Broussard told the City Council that the prices are proposed to increase at the senior center in an effort to recover the facility’s costs. He said the proposal was made for all groups who rent the space, not a specific group.

The current fees are $120 for a four-hour block of time and $240 for an eight-hour block of time, Broussard said. He said the proposal is to rent the space hourly, for $60 an hour. He said that would double the price of a four-hour reservation.

Mayor Martin Heines asked Broussard to put together details on the senior center fees proposed in his budget. He asked Broussard to email the details to the City Council so individual members could review them before the next meeting.

“(Include) as much history as possible abut what groups are using the facility and then you can send that out to the different council members, and then on Sept. 25 meeting we’ll come back and we’ll visit about that,” Heines said.

City Council members supported Heines’ proposal. They also generally expressed support for the bridge players.

“Not everything is about cost recovery,” said Councilman Don Warren. “There are some things we should do just because that’s what we do. I mean, it’s basic services.”

Councilwoman Linda Sellers said: “I agree. To me this is kind of like a park. These people go there to play bridge because they’re seniors and they don’t like going to the park anymore. So we don’t charge to go to the park.”

The City Council is scheduled to approve the fiscal year 2020 budget on Sept. 25.

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