NORMAL — Bloomington residents could soon pay more to use Normal Township's popular Activity and Recreation Center (ARC).
Officials are considering hiking fees early next year to cover rising costs, and they've targeted out-of-township users, who pay the same annual membership fee as Normal residents even though Normal residents also pay township property taxes that fund the facility.
Last year, City of Bloomington Township, a separate unit of government that overlaps with the city, paid $40,000 to Normal Township, a separate unit of government that overlaps with the town, to offset the difference in taxes, and it will again this fall.
But Normal Township officials sought to double that annual payment. When the City of Bloomington Township balked, Normal Township decided to target user fees instead.
Individuals pay $30 per year to use ARC, at 600 E. Willow St., and couples pay $50. Officials have discussed increasing those rates to $60 and $110, respectively, for Bloomington customers, and $80 and $150, respectively, for residents of areas outside either township.
An increase of some kind was needed to continue running the facility without increasing Normal Township taxes for 2018, said Supervisor Sarah Grammer.
"We're trying to offset some of the operating costs and do that without increasing taxes,” she said. "The membership fee is very low, especially for those outside the township not paying the additional taxes.”
Costs to run the center, like membership totals, have exceeded expectations since the senior center moved from 1110 Douglas St. in April 2016. About 4,000 customers use the center, 40 percent of whom are from Bloomington, said center officials. Members must be at least 55 years old.
Normal Township residents are on the hook for a special tax levy to raise $1.8 million for the facility and paid property taxes toward the $600,000 purchase of the former Illinois State University Student Recreation Building in 2013 and a $4.2 million remodeling project prior to opening.
The township's senior advisory committee will discuss the fees on Thursday. The next township board meeting is 8:15 a.m. Nov. 16 at 304 E. Mulberry St.
The township also is seeking a new member for the senior advisory committee to represent Normal Township. Normal residents can apply through Nov. 8 by sending a letter of interest to the township.