Fitness fees are taking a hike Memberships raised about 40 percent

Twinsburg — Although memberships for the Twinsburg Recreation Center will increase by as much as $150 per year in 2009, city residents will see only a slight increase in price.
Council recently approved increasing the cost of an individual membership from $211.20 to $303, a senior membership from $189.60 to $279 and a family membership from $404.40 to $560.
But Twinsburg residents will receive a $75 discount on individual and senior memberships and a $140 discount on family memberships. Residents from Twinsburg Township and Reminderville would not receive the discount.
According to Recreation Director Derek Schroeder, there are currently 146 members from the township and 112 members from the village. He said the two groups make up less than 10 percent of the 4,900 total memberships.
Councilor Bill Furey introduced the new fee schedule, saying he wanted to help offset the fitness center’s annual operating deficit, which this year sits at around $450,000. A budget hole has been a recurring issue since the facility opened in 1999, and has been plugged each year by Council transferring money to the center from the city’s general fund.
Furey also said that, with the economic downturn, recreation is an area where costs should be cut. By raising membership fees, the city would have pay less in subsidies to keep the center operational.
“Our priority is safety first, then service, then recreation,” Furey said.
But Schroeder estimated that if membership stayed as it is now, the fee increase, coupled with the city residents’ discount, would only provide an additional $29,000.
And Schroeder fears the fee hike may actually decrease membership if township and village members “look at other options.”
Township Trustee Carol Gasper said she hopes Council will reconsider the cost hike. She said she is a member of the Twinsburg Fitness Center, but due to the price increase, she does not plan on renewing her membership.
And that’s despite a discount program approved by Trustees, under which the township reimburses township residents 50 percent of their membership fees when they join the Twinsburg Fitness Center, Hudson Life Center or the Macedonia Recreation Center.
Councilor Gary Sorace said he voted against the membership fee increase because he wanted to further discuss the matter with officials from the village and township.
“I thought it would have been better to wait and negotiate instead of forcing it through,” Sorace said.
Reminderville Mayor Sam Alonso said he would have to review the increases and talk to Council to determine if he thinks the fee increase is fair.
For now, Schroeder said he thinks the recreation department will just have to better market the fitness center to increase membership.
“We need to show residents that it is still the best option,” he said.
Phone: 330-688-0088 ext. 3172

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