Glenwood Springs rec center seeks to improve cost recovery
Glenwood Springs does better than most cities with less than 20,000 people in recovering costs to run its recreation center, but more can be done to reduce the amount of tax dollars used, say consultants working to develop a strategic business plan for the facility.
GreenPlay LLC out of Broomfield, which is also updating the city’s parks and recreation master plan, has provided an analysis of current Glenwood Springs Community Center operations.
The facility, which offers several recreational amenities including a swimming pool, fitness center, gymnasium, climbing wall, tennis courts and an outdoor covered ice rink in the winter, was able to recover about 55 percent of its 2015 expenses through user fees and memberships.
The remaining 45 percent of funding to operate the facility comes from the city’s special acquisitions and improvements sales tax fund.
City voters are being asked this fall to extend the A&I tax for another 30 years, a portion of which would likely continue to support the community center.
While the funding distribution is short of the city’s goal to recover 60 percent of costs through fees and memberships, it’s far better than the national average of just 29 percent for cities with populations less than 20,000, according to National Parks and Recreation Association figures.
“You are trending higher than the national average,” GreenPlay consultant Art Thatcher said during a recent presentation of the draft business plan report to Glenwood Springs City Council.
“And, your investment is to be commended in relation to the national average,” Thatcher said in regards to the recreational amenities the city is able to offer.
The median population for a city to be able to provide the types of facilities Glenwood Springs offers ranges from 16,500 to nearly 39,800, he said.
Glenwood Springs has a population of just under 10,000 people.
While per capita spending to run the community center is somewhat higher than the national average, at $227 per person compared to $86, Glenwood Springs also brings in far more in per capita revenue than most, at $124 compared to $22, Thatcher said in his draft report.
The city did lose about 285 community center memberships from 2014 to 2015 after it raised the annual fees, resulting in a revenue drop from $480,000 to $430,200. That’s to be expected anytime there’s a fee increase, Thatcher said, and the number is expected to rebound this year.
Encouraging is the fact that 27 percent of the center’s memberships this year are from people living outside the city, a 5 percent increase over last year, he said.
Participation in recreation programs also was up in 2015, a trend that continued this year, Thatcher added. However, of 31 programming areas offered by the city, eight are not meeting minimum cost recovery goals, he said.
To meet the goal of 60 percent cost recovery, Thatcher offered several suggestions.
Among them would be to increase awareness about the community center through marketing, conducting membership drives, engaging more public use of the swimming pool, and doing social media campaigns.
Operationally, the city should also consider restructuring its membership pricing and benefits, review facility rental rates, look at year-round ice rink facility use, and contracting for some services such as recreation league officials, ice rink operations, marketing and janitorial needs.
GreenPlay is scheduled to present a final strategic business plan report as well as the latest parks, recreation, open space and trails plan to City Council on Oct. 20.
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Roaring Fork School District board candidates shared their views at a Monday forum hosted by the Glenwood Springs Chamber, and will do so again Wednesday prior to the regular school board meeting.