Saline City Council gave a green light to a task force's plan to improve the financial stability of the city-owned Saline Rec Center.
At Monday's meeting, council voted 7-0 to approve the final report from a task force commissioned by Mayor Brian Marl.
Rec Center membership, once at 3,200, has dropped to 2,090. The lower membership has caused revenue shortfalls that have been bolstered by the city's general fund by up to $150,000 a year. City officials hope the plan boosts membership and revenue.
Marl thanked Parks and Recreation Director Carla Scruggs and fellow task force members Councillor Dean Girbach, City Manager Todd Campbell, Diane Waterhouse and Scott Fosdick for their work on the Rec Center Sustainable Task Force.
“The Rec Center has struggled over the years, financially. Restatement of the problem is not a solution. So we decided to go to work,” Marl said. “These are profound recommendations. My hope is that this is a game-changing moment for the Rec Center and the Community. We are bringing the Rec Center into the 21st Century. These recommendations will not only improve the viability of the facility, but will increase the usability of the center, from the customer's perspective.”
Scruggs told council that the recommended pricing should raise enough revenue to allow the city to stop it's $150,000 annual subsidy of the center, which celebrated its 20th anniversary two years ago.
Highlights of the plan include:
- Opening residential rates beyond the city limits to include the school district limits. (A non-residential individual's $338 fee drops to $290, even with an across the board 10 percent increase).
- Raising membership rates by 10 percent. (From $264 to $290 for individuals and from $510 to $561 for families.)
- Offering monthly charges, electronically transferred from a checking account or credit card (with a 12-month contract).
- Including aerobics, yoga, Pilates, Zumba, water aerobics, spinning, TRX and Yogalaties as part of membership. (In the past, members paid for such classes on top of membership).
- Expanding the hours of operation each day. The Rec Center would open at 5:30 a.m. and close at 10 p.m. on weekdays, and operate from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends.
- Open limited hours on certain holidays.
- Increasing daily fees to $8 for seniors and $12 for adults. The age group for children, meanwhile, increases from 3 -12 to 3-17 and rates remain $5. The daily fee's allow the guest to a one-day membership, to use the pool, gym, fitness center and take part in classes.
- Open the definition of “family” to include extensions for elderly parents, adult children, and others.
Currently, the Rec Center gives cheaper residential rates to City of Saline residents and Pittsfield Township residents (the Rec Center is built on property that was once part of Pittsfield Township). One of the big pieces of this plan is offering cheaper residential rates to school district residents in York, Saline and Lodi townships. There are 9,000 residents in the city and 28,000 in the school district.
“People have a Saline address, have kids in Saline schools, go to the Saline library and might live right across the street. But they weren't a Saline resident in our eyes,” Scruggs said.
The new plan will be rolled out starting Jan. 2 and hit full stride with an open house toward the end of February, Scruggs said. The city plans a marketing blitz to make the public aware of changes. The Rec Center has a marketing budget of $6,000 for the fiscal year. It may seek an additional $5,000 for marketing.
Councillor David Rhoads moved the motion to approve the task force's recommendation.
“I understand something needs to be done to improve the revenue stream at the Rec Center,” Rhoads said. “I appreciate the efforts of the task force and I am pleased to see this will reduce the burden on our general fund.”
Rhoads said he hopes increased revenues will also allow the city to begin paying down debt on the Rec Center. Campbell said debt on the Rec Center is due to be paid off by 2023-24.