Tuesday, February 15, 2011
DALLAS -- The city of Dallas may consider a proposal to increase admission and annual membership rates at the Dallas Aquatic Center.
"We have addressed the expenditure side of the equation pretty well," said Jason Locke, the city director of economic development.
Now the city is looking at increasing the amount of money coming in.
Since fiscal year 2007-08, expenditures at the facility have fallen by more than $236,000. Costs will decrease another $50,000 per year once the city pays off a loan used to complete an energy efficiency project.
However, revenue from admission and memberships in that same time period has fallen. In 2010, the center sold about 10,000 fewer day-use passes than in 2009. Concessions and pro shop sales have also decreased. Overall, admission and membership revenue decreased about $60,000 last year compared to 2009.
A number of factors may have contributed to a weak 2010, including poor summer weather and a bad economy, Locke said.
To reverse the slide, a rate hike proposal asks for an increase of 50 cents to the daily admission price for adults and seniors, raising youth (18 and younger) rates to match the senior rate, a $1 per person increase to the family rate (up to four people), a $25 increase to annual memberships, and a $50 increase to the annual family membership rate. Non-residency annual membership rates also will increase.
The increases could bring in about $50,000 in additional revenue, based on the 2010 attendance numbers.
"It's not insignificant," Locke said. "We want to reduce the reliance on the general fund."
In 2009-10, the facility required more than a $300,000 subsidy from the city's general fund. That is about $150,000 less than in 2006-07, but still a number Locke would like to see decrease.
The rate change proposal was presented to the Dallas City Council at its meeting on Feb. 7, but councilors have asked city staff to scrutinize parts of the proposal, such as how much additional revenue would come in from raising the senior rate.
"Nobody is rushing to make a decision on this," Locke said.
Locke said the city is concerned about having an increase deter people from using the facility, and thus offsetting the gain. But he noted daily admission rates haven't been changed in a decade. Annual membership rates where lowered significantly in 2008 and membership expanded to include discounts for lessons, party room rentals and special events.
That rate decrease enticed more people to become members, increasing the number of members from about 175 before the change in mid-2008 to about 850 now.
Raising rates isn't the only item being looked at to increase revenue. The city has a plan for more aggressive advertising and the center already has moved its pro shop and concession displays to more visible areas. Locke said those measures have made an impact already.
He said the eventual goal is to have the center generating enough revenue to cover 70 percent of its expenditures. Currently the center is covering about 58 percent of its costs. He said the center may never break even.
"Aquatic centers are not money makers," Locke said. "We look at it as a service to citizens."
That said, Locke notes that city staff is always re-evaluating operations to decrease costs and increase money coming in.
"It's getting better every year," Locke said.