Despite continued calls from residents and a plea to postpone the vote until its January meeting, the Recreation Centers of Sun City Board of Directors yesterday approved the largest property assessment increase in at least the past 10 years.
In addition, the board approved a variety of fee increases, including gold greens fees, club guest fees, short-term privilege cards, bowling fees and facility rental fees. The board kept the Guest fee host punch card rate the same, but reduced the card from 10 punches to eight.
The annual property assessment was raised $22 to $496. Details of the other fees can be found on the RCSC website, www.suncityaz.org, under the RCSC tab, then click on Board and Committee Meetings and clicking on the board agenda and motions.
Residents opposed to the fee believe the rec centers officials are putting an undue burden on those fighting to survive financially.
“I am speaking for those in fixed incomes, with low incomes and those with sub poverty level incomes; there is a large portion of those in Sun City,” said Bill Vann. “The 2010 U.S. Census stated the median income in Sun City is $40,640. That means half are above that but half are below.”
He believes RCSC management and previous boards have ignored that demographic.
“Those people have suffered through increases across the board without a cost of living adjustment and little or no reserves,” Mr. Vann said. “RCSC should absorb some of those costs.”
RCSC officials believe the increase is necessary to meet the demands of Proposition 206, which not only raised the minium wage to $10 per hour but will require part-time employees to accrue and receive sick pay.
“With 55 percent of RCSC’s personnel under the $10 per hour minimum wage and numerous payscales other than minimum wage being affected, plus the additional sick pay for part-time employees, RCSC’s operating costs increased by $1 million for 2017,” stated the motion for increases, read by board member Carol Lawry.
RCSC officials had prepared a budget with no assessment of fee increases and it was recommended by the Budget and Finance Committee Nov. 4. But when Proposition 206 passed, officials developed a second budget with revised numbers. That second budget, with corresponding increases, was the one approved.
Residents still believed RCSC management and board could have addressed Proposition differently.
“Why raise rates when you have a $2.4 million surplus at the end of 2016?” Jim McGranahan asked. “I don’t see that these increases are justified.”
Bob Faulkner said increased guest fees and club fees several years ago cost the Ballroom Dance Club membership, and he is certain the club, and others, will lose more members with the board-approved increases.
“What is Sun City without the clubs?” he asked. “Just another community.”
Steve Collins believes RCSC officials cannot keep passing the increased cost of doing business to the members.
Jim Stark asked the board to postpone the vote on the increases until January’s meeting because they were, as proposed, not slated to go into effect until Feb. 1.
“Who has stood up and said no, and taken caree of the members?” asked Jim Stark, who said he was speaking for himself and not the Sun City Home Owners Association, on whose board he serves. “If you are doing it to subsudize golf and other things, you should consider another model — such as pay for service.”
Mr. Stark said the board has two responsibilities, one to the corporation and another to the members.