The city recently hired the consulting firm Lewis, Young Robertson and Burningham to analyze the financial feasibility of the Moab Recreation and Aquatic Center. During the regular city council meeting on June 28, Marcus Lee, a representative from the firm, presented the findings and proposed that the MRAC increase fees by 10% in order to lessen its financial burden. 

Municipal recreation facilities often have to be subsidized by their cities; they cost much more to operate than they generate in revenue. In the MRAC’s case, expenditures in 2019 were almost double revenue: that year, the center cost $1,015,268 to operate—the largest costs were associated with staff salaries and benefits—but brought in $528,384. Lee presented two future scenarios for the MRAC’s fund balance: one with a rate increase, and one without. 

Without any rate increases, Lee said, by 2032, the MRAC’s fund balance was estimated to be negative $6.9 million. With a 10% rate increase, the fund balance in 2032 would be negative $6.01 million. 

A 10% rate increase would still keep the MRAC’s facilities accessible, especially to locals, Lee said. Daily admission for adult residents, for aquatic or fitness use only, would go from $5 to $5.50; and for families of up to 6, would increase from $15 to $16.50. According to the analysis, the biggest revenue would come from daily non-resident family passes, which would increase from $25 to $27.50. 

To achieve total revenue sustainability, Lee said, rates would need to increase 63% to never operate in a deficit in the next 10 years. Instead of a large increase like that, Lee suggested the city start with the smaller 10% increase and re-evaluate every two to three years. 

A proposed updated fee schedule will come before the council for a vote at a future meeting.