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Sat, Aug. 24

Cottonwood council approves rate revisions for Rec Center

The Cottonwood Recreation Center has expenses of $1.3 million annually, and its fee revenue is about $750,000 per year, or about 59 percent of expenses.

The Cottonwood Recreation Center has expenses of $1.3 million annually, and its fee revenue is about $750,000 per year, or about 59 percent of expenses.

COTTONWOOD -- As the main action item in a relatively short regular meeting Tuesday, the Cottonwood Council approved some fee reductions that hopefully will solve some financial concerns with the city's rec center.

By unanimous approval, the Council agreed to reduce some of the fees for the Cottonwood Recreation Center. One of the main adjustments is to annual membership fees for individuals and families.

The new rates will take effect Oct. 1.

The hope is that the city will be able to increase overall membership and usage of the Rec Center, and, in turn, generate money from fees that will bring the recreation budget closer to a break-even point.

The Rec Center is not meant to entirely pay for itself through fees, but Recreation Director Hezekiah Allen, City Manager Ron Corbin and others have been working on a plan to have the center cover a bigger percentage of its expenses.

"When Ron came on board, he set a goal of revenue equaling 75 percent of expenses," Allen told the Council. "And, after we caught our breath, we went to work. There are several adjustments we plan to make to both cut expenses and raise more revenue."

The center, which has expenses of $1.3 million annually, and its fee revenue is about $750,000 per year, or about 59 percent of expenses.

The proposed new rates eliminate the in-town/outside-Cottonwood resident pay structure.

Non-residents of the city will now pay a reduction from $385 to $325 for an annual single adult membership, and a family with as many as five members will be reduced from $660 to $570.

Allen presented a plethora of Rec Center expenses and related statistics, such as memberships. Only 11% of the memberships are full-family.

Expenses include salaries, and operating hours were studied as well. More than one person in Tuesday's meeting mentioned there tends to be people waiting for the gym to open on Saturdays when the doors are opened, so Saturday hours might be on a list of adjustments to make.

Pool heating in the winter, temperature controls for the building and reducing overall electricity use were discussed as part of expenses. The monthly utility expenses for the Rec Center is about $14,000, or about $168,000 per year.

Online interaction with the community -- both in terms of memberships and Rec Center marketing and promotion -- and reduced or more strategically scheduled staffing were also discussed.

Corbin joked that Mayor Tim Elinski could eventually become the subject of a "push the mayor in the pool" contest, while pointing out that a wide variety of fun promotions could be used in the years ahead to bring more people to the Rec Center.

"It could be that we come to Council a few years from now, and say, 'That didn't work; Let's try something else," Corbin said. "But, after crunching a lot of information, we feel we can make the Rec Center more useful and improve finances by making it easier to get and pay for memberships."

The council's next regular meeting is set for 6 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 20, in council chambers, 826 N. Main St.,

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