WAXAHACHIE — The Waxahachie City Council approved an increase to the dues for yearly membership at the Waxahachie Senior Activity Center at its Monday night meeting. The increase in its dues is to help with the center’s operation cost, which has expanded over the years adding additional amenities and staff.

The new annual rate for residents ages 50-64 is $95, and ages 65-89 is $75, which is a $20 increase in each age group from the previous rate. The new annual rate for non-residents ages 50-64 is $145, and for ages 65 -89 is $125. This is a $50 increase per age group from the previous rate. Free memberships are still available for seniors who are 90 years old and above.

Presenting the item before the council was Senior Center Director Jeanee Smiles.

“I would like to thank you for your support of the center and myself and your continued support. At our regular scheduled meeting in September we reviewed our membership dues,” Smiles said. “We do need to increase the dues this year. We were looking at a $20 increase for city and non-residential members for membership dues.”

Mayor Kevin Strength told the council that he felt that proposed $20 due increases recommended by the Senior Center Advisory Committee for both groups did not share the cost the center equally. He felt that residents were carrying more of the burden since they pay taxes in addition to the membership dues.

“I don’t think that there is much a gap between the residents and the non-residents. I think that the gap needs to be more than that. We are talking about per year and not per month,” Strength said. "I think that we need to increase that to about $145. That would justify us putting more people and resources out there.”

Mayor Pro Tem Mark Singleton shared Strength’s thoughts about the proposed increase. Singleton said when the center moved from the Optimist Club Youth Center on Patrick Street to the current location at Park Hills Drive in 2009 the amenities have vastly improved.

One such improvement is the new fitness center that is under construction. The center raised half of the $220,000 through fundraisers, donations, and grants for the fitness center. The city supplied the remaining half. The city has also added additional staff and resources.

“We went from the old optimist center to the Taj Mahal. It should be based on the value of the operation,” Singleton said. “People don’t live in the city that is their choice, but they should have the same benefits that the people inside the city limits are paying. What we have got now is so awesome from what we had. The only way to keep it alive is drive dollars towards it and creates value. The needs just keep growing.”

Senior Center Advisory Board Member Ray Weable asked the council to consider that many of the members are on a fixed income and such a significant increase that is proposed would be a financial burden on them.

Singleton said the center does a have a scholarship program in place where members of the community can help sponsor a senior that is truly in need.

Smiles said the center has 1,300 members that are city residents and 278 members that are non-city residents. The center is made of people from Ellis, Kaufman, Navarro and Dallas Counties. She added that the center allows members to remain healthy through the fitness equipment that is available for use. But it also provides opportunities for friendships to form. With the approval of the council, the new rate has gone into effect.

For more information about the Waxahachie Senior Activity Center, its staff can be reached at 469-309-4280. It is located at 122 Park Hills Dr. in Waxahachie.

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