Tallmadge Rec Center revenues down, as visits slowly increase

Krista S. Kano
Akron Beacon Journal

Tallmadge Recreation Center revenues were down by more than 50% last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and that decline has continued into January, city officials say.

"The pandemic was not kind to the rec center's operation," finance director Mollie Gilbride told the city's Recreation Governing Board. "We had a huge operational loss there this year due to that. I guess, it is what it is at this point."

According to Gilbride's report, 2020 revenues were down to $645,564, compared to $1,482,456 in 2019. Although expenditures also decreased ($1,264,745 in 2020 compared to $1,593,224 in 2019), the annual net loss grew by over $500,000, ($619,181 in 2020 over $110,767 in 2019). 

"The rec center is run out of the general fund, so any deficits in operations are funded by other revenues from any income tax," Gilbride explained. 

Revenues were also down in January 2021 to $45,982, compared to $142,935 in January 2020. 

"We didn't have Community All-Stars in January, which is a huge revenue generator in terms of admissions for spectators," Gilbride said.

Staffing cuts due to low visitations also helped reduce expenditures. 

Rec Center director Jessica Simons attributed the financial losses to decreased memberships, the elimination of daily admissions passes and prohibiting pickup basketball games. 

She added that membership numbers are not necessarily reflective of visitations, as some people maintain memberships through their insurance but may not visit at all.

"Memberships are still down and the paying memberships I think are causing that 64% decline. Insurance-based memberships have stayed the same, but they're not using the facility," Gilbride said. "For Silver Sneakers, we received $24,000 last year in January, and now we're at about a third of that, so that's reflective of how far down the visits are." 

The rec center has seen an increase in daily average visits from 121 when they reopened in June to 354 in January 2021. 

"And in February it's 450 a day. I know we're only [a few] days in, but we're trending in the right direction, it's just taking a while to get there," Simons said. "Especially with Silver Sneakers members, it'll take a while to catch up. They're obviously an at-risk population, so it'll take a while to get that up to full steam." 

Simons expects daily visits to increase as more people get vaccinated. 

Reporter Krista S. Kano can be reached at 330-541-9416, kkano@thebeaconjournal.com or on Twitter @KristaKanoABJ.