An estimated 321 non-resident members of the Smithfield Recreation and Aquatics Center (SRAC) will see a 10 percent increase in their monthly premiums effective this month. In town residents will not see the price hike.
In June, the Smithfield Town Council approved a 10 percent rate hike for all non-resident members in the new 2015-16 fiscal year budget. At Tuesday night’s meeting, Gary Johnson, Director of Smithfield Parks & Recreation, wanted clarification on the rate increase.
Johnson said the industry standard was not to increase rates for existing members, only new members who enrolled. The SRAC first opened in 2009 and has had only one prior rate increase, which occurred in 2010.
Johnson said he was concerned the 10 percent increase, which amounts to as little as $4.70 per month to as much as $12.20 per month for some families, might cause membership to decline. He recommended following the standard practice of not raising rates for existing non-resident members, only for new non-resident members who sign up.
Councilman Perry Harris responded by saying when the town increases water rates, it does so for all customers, no matter if they were existing or new customers and the membership increase should be no different.
Mayor Pro Tem Andy Moore reminded fellow council members the SRAC was a joint venture with Johnston County Schools, and while the 321 members may not live in the city limits they are part of the community.
“A minimum rate increase is a part of life and I don’t understand why it is an issue,” Harris said The council took no action, meaning the price hike for non-member residents of the SRAC will take effect immediately.
Out of town residents will also pay 10% more for many other parks and recreation services this year including participation in sporting events, as part of fee increase included in the 2015-16 town budget.