Membership rates at the Prairie Township Community Center will increase next year for the first time since its opening in 2015.

The center, 5955 W. Broad St., has more than 5,800 active members, recreation director James Gant said.

The monthly membership rate will increase by $1 for township residents and $1.50 for non-residents on Jan. 1, 2019.

That means resident memberships will climb by $12 for individuals and $36 annually for a family of three or more. Rates will increase by $18 a year for an individual, nonresident member and $54 a year for a non-resident family of three or more.

Trustees unanimously approved the increases Sept.12.

While it doesn't sound like a lot, the decision to raise rates wasn't an easy one, Gant said, but better than the alternative of "waiting longer and hitting people with big increases."

"We expect to raise rates every few years -- small incremental increases," he said. "This doesn't feel as awful."

The community center covers about 70 percent of its operational costs through the sale of memberships, although Gant said he'd like to see that number increase to 80 percent or more.

On average, parks departments recover 29 percent of operating expenses from nontax revenues, according to a 2016 report from the Virginia-based National Recreation and Park Association.

Current rates and types of memberships in the Prairie Township Community Center can be found at www.prairietownship.org/190/Annual-Membership-Rates

The next trustees' meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 26, at the township hall, 23 Maple Drive.

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