Feature Article - June 2011
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State of the Industry 2011

A Look at What's Happening in Recreation, Sports and Fitness Facilities

By Emily Tipping

"We have a number of older facilities that are in serious need of building equipment upgrades or risk failure of the equipment," another commented. "With the current local economic conditions, I am concerned about being able to budget dollars to make the needed upgrades/replacements."

Others put it simply. As one reader said, "Funding cuts have delayed most preventive, needed remedial maintenance." Another said, "Without funding, deferred maintenance will become a norm, and facilities and equipment will deteriorate."

Staffing issues were chosen as a top current concern by 42.3 percent of respondents, and 36.2 percent said it will continue to be a concern over the next three years. Staffing concerns ranged from the ability to find—or keep—quality staff to the inability to compensate staff adequately.

"It is always hard to find good people for the job," one respondent lamented. Another pointed to "continued reductions in staffing" as a major issue, adding, "Reduced staffing will continue to erode programming and facility maintenance."

Many respondents were concerned about recent cutbacks in staff or in staff salaries and benefits.

"We have had to cut back on staff salaries and hours just to make ends meet," one respondent said. "If things don't get better, we will be looking at high health care costs and risk management costs. Facilities need to be staffed at appropriate levels to not only provide the best quality programs and services, but also to keep facilities in the best working condition (the integrity of the facility itself)."

"Our staff has not had a raise in three years," another respondent said. "As other entities are starting to give increases again, we are not. I'm afraid we are going to lose our top performers."

Several readers were worried about the impending retirement of many of their employees, as well. One reader reported that 50 percent of the staff would be eligible for retirement within two to three years. Another said, "Staffing is the greatest concern as current mid-management is nearing retirement age. Municipality is not hiring entry-level employees to be mentored and trained as was done in the past. I began as a summer seasonal at 19, trained by superiors, and 32 years later, I'm ready to retire with no underlings ready to take over the ranks. The career line is not clear for new hires, so the dedication, loyalty and commitment are not exhibited because they don't know if they have a career to look forward to."