Photo by Dean Crandall

The City of Maricopa wants to make Copper Sky Multigenerational Center 75 percent self-sufficient. Currently, it is at 65 percent sustainability.

Nathan Ullyot, Maricopa’s director of Community Services, explained a proposed fee change for Copper Sky to the media Tuesday. Ullyot said there has been a lot of discussion, mostly on social media, about the city’s proposed fee changes that will be presented to the city council later this month.

“What is getting missed in all this is the opportunity that we are providing for everybody. There is a lot of focus around senior pricing,” Ullyot said. “There are some really nice changes for families or folks who decide to get a membership to Copper Sky.”

Ullyot said the new fee schedule will allow flexibility for members and provide the city a more sustainable facility.

With all the changes in membership costs, Ullyot said the city is adding a scholarship program that gives discounts on memberships and classes based on income levels.

Seniors automatically get a 10-percent discount, according to Ullyot. He said they can get further discounts based on scholarships that are also available.

“Folks who are at need or in need can have a scholarship opportunity to Copper Sky and receive a 20 or 40 percent discount,” he said, adding the scholarships are based on federal poverty level guidelines.

He said if seniors qualify for the scholarships and the regular senior discounts, they could save up to 50 percent off their memberships.

Seniors will no longer have a separate price point.

“This was done when they opened, and they haven’t changed it. There was no policy to guide that. This policy changes that. The seniors get an automatic 10 percent along with veterans. They can combine that with a scholarship,” he said.

Some seniors may also qualify for assistance through their health insurance programs.

The scholarship program has two discount levels of 20 and 40 percent off membership costs. He said the application for a scholarship is simple and only one-page long.

In applying for a scholarship, the city asks for a tax return, a current income statement and proof of residence like a utility bill or driver’s license. Copies of the documents will also be returned or destroyed after application processing, which should take two weeks or less.

“We are also looking at making sure our Copper Sky programs have an improved value,” he said. “The reality is our annual members will see no increase. There will be no change in their membership. The big changes will be for those going month to month. We are trying to push them to go to six months or annual. There is also an increase to our day passes.”

Members will also save with discounts on sports programs, like aquatics classes or enrichment classes, as part of their membership. They also receive free event parking and fun-zone passes, according to Ullyot. Members also receive 10 guest passes per year.

Rates will be categorized at three levels for Copper Sky – member, resident and non-resident.

Ullyot said Copper Sky has maintained its budget numbers in recent years but increasing costs, like the increase in minimum wage, is impacting the center’s bottom line.

“We have maintained for the last four years. This has been on the minds of the council going forward. How do we hit a better sustainability model? … For a family we want to be the best fit financially and quality-wise,” Ullyot said.

Copper Sky has about 6,800 members with approximately 2,000 senior members.

Ullyot said some seniors are upset about the new fee structures.

“We’re getting some heat from folks who aren’t (members) or some folks who took advantage of day passes,” Ullyot said. “They are losing some of that flexibility. We’re trying to drive them towards membership. We didn’t explain some of the senior impact upfront. After we talked about it – it makes a lot of sense. If people can afford, they do. If they can’t then there is help.”

Ullyot said a lot of seniors want a space solely dedicated to them, but that is difficult because Copper Sky just doesn’t have the room. He said they are planning to increase services for seniors.

“I don’t think we’ve done enough for seniors in Copper Sky. We are working to identify a couple days a week where we can do some senior fellowship programs. Provide coffee and doughnuts and things like that. We are looking for feedback from seniors on things they want to do,” he said.

Another thing that will change at Copper Sky will be rental fees that are equivalent to a sports complex level, not a community park level.

“When it comes to turf and fields Copper Sky is maintained at a sports complex level. Which is going to mean more mowing, overseeing timelines and things like that. It is designed to attract outside tournaments to come into town,” Ullyot said.

Fields at Picana Park will remain at their current price point while Copper Sky fields will increase in rental costs to support “that level of care.”

Ullyot said in the past rental fees at Copper Sky didn’t always cover costs incurred by the city for the event to take place, such as wages for lifeguards.

“We actually lost money. We didn’t charge enough for the amount of lifeguards it takes and the space that was being given. It was very difficult with a private rental, so it wasn’t cost effective,” he said.

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