PROS Consulting, a government consulting firm, presented the results of a survey analyzing citizen support for a Rexburg recreation center.
Rexburg city council listened to proposals for the design, funding and operation of a future Rexburg recreation center from the PROS consulting firm during their work meeting on Dec. 7.
“I don’t know if a week goes by that one of us isn’t asked about an indoor pool,” said city councilmember Tisha Flora.
The proposed recreation center would be located next to Rexburg Rapids and be approximately 78,000 square feet. There would be rooms for games and classes, as well as other multi-purpose rooms. Members would also have access to a gym, where they could walk around the track, enlist in fitness classes and use an indoor pool.
To fund a recreation center, the city must assemble a recreation district for Madison county. This would allow the county to pay for the center by raising residents’ property taxes. These tax dollars would establish the recreation district, construct the building and subsidize the center’s operations.
According to PROS consulting’s recreation center study, 79% of respondents would be somewhat supportive or very supportive of the creation of a county-wide district to fund recreation facilities meeting the needs of Madison County.
“(Madison county has) a lot of support financially for the establishment of a recreation district, for the construction of a recreation center and for people paying to use a recreation center after it’s opened,” said Micheal Svetz, a consultant from PROS consulting firm.
The majority of Madison county residents expressed support for additional charges on their property taxes with 32% supporting an additional $12.50 a month and 37% supporting an additional $14 a month.
How to get it passed
In order to pass the new recreation district, it would need to be voted on with 50% approval. Once the district is established, the city would have to pass a bond with two-thirds approval. Only then can construction begin.
“If you don’t establish a recreation district, you won’t be constructing a recreation center because that’s the entity that will carry the project forward,” Svetz said.
Getting two-thirds of voters to approve higher taxes may be challenging. 25% of respondents did not approve of any sort of increase in property taxes.
“I object to it strongly and I will lobby to see that voters don’t vote for something that’s going to go on for 30 years,” one Rexburg resident said.
The recreation center would operate over 95 hours a week if opened. Its primary income will be through membership and daily admission fees, which will cover approximately 75% of operation costs.
Memberships would include priority registration for programs and classes, unlimited gym use and day-care services for ages 2 to 12. But in order to have successful recreation center operations, Svetz believes cleanliness and good customer service must be present.
“If your facility is not in repair and it’s not clean and you don’t have good customer service, you devalue membership,” Svetz said. “People have bad experiences, and then you end up with a whole bunch of complaints.”
It’s up to the citizens of Madison county to put a measure for a recreation district on the ballot. They will need signatures from 20% of registered voters in Madison county. Flora suggested citizens group together to form a community committee to gather signatures.
“It’s not a city council decision,” Flora said. “It’s a citizen decision.”