The Saline Rec Center is considering a proposal to raise membership fees by 10 percent while increasing program offerings.
Carla Scruggs, Director of Saline Parks and Recreation, presented the proposal to Saline City Council during a work session prior to Monday’s regular meeting.
Scruggs noted the Rec Center hasn’t increased membership fees since January of 2014. At the same time, the center began giving city resident discounts to all residents of the Saline school district. The Rec Center also bundled several free classes as part of the membership. Since then the Rec Center has increased membership from 2,264 to 2,664 and increased membership and daily free revenue from $704,000 to $919,000.
Increasing membership fees by 10 percent will raise membership revenue from $889,000 to $978,000. There are also plans to increase the family extension fee from $50 to $100. Scruggs said there are several reasons why more revenue is needed.
First, membership is down slightly this year. Scruggs attributed this to the warm autumn.
“People have been doing recreation outdoors,” Scruggs said. “From my conversations with people at other fitness facilities, they have experienced the same thing.”
Memberships were lower in August and September but picked up in October, Scruggs said.
She said the Rec Center also suffered when it lost a popular personal trainer in July.
Secondly, the Rec Center has experienced more costs. The city saddled the Rec Center a $35,000 annual line item for retirement costs. Additionally, the Rec Center continues to have significant maintenance and equipment costs. In the 2015-16, the Rec Center spent $330,00 on infrastructure, including $165,000 on the north parking lot and $134,000 on the natatorium ventilation project. Costs were down in 2016-17, but the center still spent $93,000.
“Staff and I look at financials every month and look for ways to be frugal on expenditures. But we’ve had significant repairs, including engineering costs for the natatorium and the roof project. We’ve stayed relatively healthy,” Scruggs said.
The fund balance is projected to be $455,000 at the end of the year.
Scruggs told council the Rec Center plans to give customers a little more for their increased membership fees. Currently, members are entitled to 36 free classes. The plan is to increase that to 42.
The Rec Center also plans to raise the age of adults to 19 for the purposes of day passes so 18-year-old high school students can still enjoy $5-a-day fees. Another change is to allow teens under 16 to use free weights, though they would need to take a Rec Center class on weight room safety and work out when a supervisor is on duty.
Scruggs said there are two goals behind the proposal. She wants to improve the financial stability of the rec center and she wants to grow membership by improving the experience for its members.
“The Recreation Center is being what it should be – a Saline community rec center,” Scruggs said.
Scruggs said the increased fees are in line with prices at other facilities.
“We done a comparison with other facilities and even after raising our fees it keeps us in the low end of what people are charging. Keep in mind that the Rec Center is a unique facility in Saline. We have pools, a gymnasium, fitness facilities, racquetball and more. We have unique facilities. Others don’t have the amenities we offer,” Scruggs said. Even with the increase it’s still a very affordable rate. By adding fitness classes, we believe we’ll attract even more members.”
At the Rec Center’s peak, it had 3,200 members. Scruggs estimates it could increase to 4,000 members without issues of overcrowding.
Mayor Brian Marl expressed support for the proposal.
“Essentially, the rates have been adjusted for inflation,” Marl said.
Councillor Dean Girbach said he’d like to see increases more frequently. He expressed some concern about adding more classes and costs.
Marl said he didn’t expect the Rec Center to generate profit or even break even.
“While the intent is to get as close to revenue neutral as possible, the intent is to get people in the doors and get our citizens as healthy as possible,” Marl said.