KINGFIELD — Selectmen agreed Monday evening to continue reviewing the fee for groups using Webster Hall and revisit the issue at the next town meeting.

The decision followed a request by members of several groups whose members said doubling the hourly rental rate from $5 to $10 was too much. Some suggested not charging anything.

“I would like to ask the Board of Selectmen to reconsider the Webster Hall rental agreement,” resident Diane Cristen said. She said the hall, which also houses the Town Office, was originally designated as a place for residents to go in an emergency. Residents always have used the hall for social activities, and seniors were feeling the impact of the increase, she said.

Cristen suggested voters at annual town meetings approve money for the building’s utilities, maintenance and cleaning, so paying to use the hall is charging them twice.

“To double the price is really ridiculous,” Cristen said.

Part of the problem, according to Administrative Assistant Leanna Targett, is that the original documentation about the intended use and costs to support Webster Hall seems to be lost. She’s found old records that mention a $1 hourly fee levied in 1984 and said she would search for other documentation that might shed more light on fees.

Some residents said many who live in town belong to more than one group, so the new rates can amount to even more for those individuals.

Ruth White told selectmen that many of the town’s groups that meet at the hall do charitable work and it’s their only meeting place.

Josephine Bessey Holmes said the exercise and cribbage groups may have only a few participants on any given day, so sharing the $10 hourly cost could be expensive.

“We’re all in our 60s, 70s, 80s and some are even in their 90s,” she said. “You have some really neat seniors among you.”

Others noted that not all non-municipal gatherings have to pay the hourly rate.

Under the new rate structure, businesses and public groups are supposed to pay $30 an hour, with a $25 fee to use the kitchen, but some groups, including Alcoholics Anonymous and Regional School Administrative District 58, aren’t charged anything.

Resident Jane Deely said she understood selectmen wanting to raise money to refurbish and update the hall, but she suggested they could request the money at the next town meeting.

Targett also noted that some groups don’t adhere to the agreed-upon schedule. They might reserve the hall for a specific time, but members arrive earlier or stay later than that. Occasionally, she said, she’s even received a disagreeable response when she had to call a group’s contact person about a scheduling conflict.

Many of the groups’ participants aren’t even residents of Kingfield, Selectman John Dill said.

“Tonight, you’ve got this whole group of people here with ideas,” Selectman Raymond Meldrum said. “It would have been really helpful to know all of this when we were working on this.”

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