Tallmadge parks facilities experience revenue losses due to COVID-19

Expenses reduced in effort to offset drop in income

Laura Freeman
Kent Weeklies
Pickleball is a popular activity at the Tallmadge Recreation Center. The facility, along with other parks and recreation facilities, has experienced a loss in revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemics and has reduced expenses to make up the lower amount of revenue.

TALLMADGE – The parks department and recreation center activities in 2020 suffered a loss in revenue from COVID-19 and expenses were cut as much as possible but a net loss has been trending.

The Recreation Center through the month of August had a $403,768 net operating loss, according to Director of Finance Mollie Gilbride. Revenues are down 54.26% over this time last year. The total revenue was $450,327 and the operating expenses were $854,004, resulting in a loss of $403,768.

"With the closing of the facility through June 1 and cancellation of summer programming, we have seen a reduction of revenue from last year [compared with the same point in time last year] of $473,595," Gilbride said.

Cancellations of the summer programming resulted in a revenue loss of $103,330 for summer camp and $96,340 in before and after care, she said.

"We will see corresponding reduction of expenses as programming is canceled, wages for part-time employees cease and the facility is closed," Gilbride said. "At the end of August, expenses were down overall 22.24% or $244,246 compared to the same point in time last year." 

Pickleball is one of the popular activities at the Tallmadge Recreation Center, where revenues are down this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition, building maintenance and utilities costs are up due to repairs to the restrooms and the cleaning and sealing of the floors earlier than usual, Gilbride said.

One of the major expense areas that was reduced at the recreation center was personnel costs.

"Payroll was down 37.19%, or $270,285, by the end of August because of reductions of part-time wages for the facility closures and program cancellations," Gilbride said.

The facility was closed from March 16 through June 1. No part-time employees were paid during that time, Gilbride said.

Approximately 70 part-time employees were furloughed during the shutdown and about 45 to 50 returned in late May if they wanted to, according to Jessica Simons, CPRP,  Superintendent of Parks and Recreation. Three full-time employees worked throughout COVID. 

Many part-time employees are working in a different capacity than before COVID and are working fewer hours now, Simons said. 

Summer programming was canceled and no employees were hired for that programming, Gilbride said.

“The city constantly is evaluating the Recreation Center's operations and programming to adapt to the ongoing restrictions we have due to the pandemic," said Gilbride.

The city issued $18,062 more in refunds than the previous year which is being offset by the expense reductions in other areas, she said. 

Maca and pavilions

Maca Pool was budgeted to generate $293,860 in revenue in 2020, Gilbride said. None of that revenue was received. Approximately $230,000 in expenses were not incurred due to the closure.

Maca’s average net profit over the last four years has been $35,439, she said. Maca Pool is operated out of the city’s general fund and any profits are used to cover other general fund expenses.

The city has seen a reduction in revenue for pavilion and facility rentals from 2019 to 2020 of $28,788. The city also issued refunds totaling $5,655 for previously paid rentals as of Sept. 25. The staffing required to clean the rental facilities has not been needed but the amount not spent has not been calculated.

Tallmadge does not have a levy for its parks.

The Tallmadge Recreation Center will expand its programs and hours Sept. 28.

Future plans

The Recreation Center will expand its programs and hours Sept. 28, according to  Simons.

Hours starting that Monday will be from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday. The Recreation Center will be closed on Sundays.

Currently the recreation center has the track, second floor fitness area and some classes on the basketball courts as well as pickleball.

"Beginning Sept. 28 the soccer field and basketball courts will be open to individual practice and small group play," Simons said. “We won’t allow any pickup games.”

Players must bring their own equipment and wear a mask, she said. Other restrictions will apply and the front desk will have details.

Currently the Recreation Center offers before and after school care, but on Sept. 28, they will open the child care area for members Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to noon.

There will be a limit of nine children at a time. The play structure will be closed and a limited number of toys available. Other restrictions will apply and the front desk will have details.

The memberships are paused while the facility was closed and have been extended 90 days to account for the closure, Simons said.

"Those who still do not feel comfortable coming back have let us know and we are continuing to pause or freeze their memberships until they feel comfortable to return," Simons said. "Once they decide to come back, their expiration date will be extended by the amount of time they missed."

Visits in August totaled 4,202 compared to 16,123 visits in 2019 but attendance was up from the July total of 4,139 (15,600 visits in July 2019) and the June total of 3,148 (16,274 visits in June 2019).

"They have been steadily increasing since opening in June, which is what we’re tracking now," Simons said.

Programs and hours are being added because of demand and safety precautions are in place, Simons said. 

"We see demand in using those areas and feel confident we can allow people to use them safely," Simons said. "As the temperature starts to change outside, we know more people will want to workout indoors and we wanted to help facilitate that in the safest way possible. As guidelines change, we will update our operations."

All Primetimers events and meetings are canceled for the rest of the year. All pavilion rentals have been canceled for the remainder of the year. Hall rentals have been canceled through Sept. 30.

The city will be rescheduling or refunding deposits for all canceled events as per existing policy. 

Gannett reporter Laura Freeman can be reached at lfreeman@recordpub.com