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PROVO — After much discussion about whether Provo City’s decision to close the recreation center on Sunday was about religion, the mayor sent a clear message that the hours of operation were based on cost.
Tuesday, Mayor John Curtis wrote a blog post concerning the city’s decision to close the recreation center on Sundays, saying it was about cost, not the religious beliefs of council members or many Provo citizens.
“I’d like to preface the discussion with the backdrop of understanding that this is not a religious-based debate,” he wrote. “Where it’s made sense, we’ve opened amenities on Sunday. Our splash pad at Pioneer Park is a perfect example.”
Curtis says instead it is about the cost of operation versus the revenue recreationists may bring in on that extra day. Under the recreation center’s current model of operation, he said the cost of operation on Sundays would be about $223,600 a year “without any real additional revenue.”
He said a “bare bones” staff costs roughly $4,300 dollars a day to operate for the duration of the rec center’s normal daytime hours. If the hours were shortened to 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., it would cost the center $90,000 a year instead of the more than $200,000.
That minimal staff would include eight employees to staff the community center, front desk and fitness center, as well as 16 lifeguards for the indoor and outdoor pools, four employees for child care, six cleaners, two maintenance workers and a facility manager.
“In addition, we would need to add management-level staffing to accommodate for the extra day. That cost has not been factored into the numbers I’ve shared nor have some of the other intangibles,” Curtis wrote.
A presentation and discussion of these numbers was scheduled to take place in Tuesday’s Council Work Session, though Deputy Mayor Corey Norman said the agenda for the meeting had been “ambitious” and the discussion was tabled until Dec. 17.
Norman said, however, that the city’s decision to close the center on Sundays was already firm.
“We're not going to open it on Sunday,” Norman said. “A quarter-of-a-million dollars is not something we're interested in spending on that day of operation without the revenue to justify it.”