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OUR VIEW: City should give discounts to those with lots of memberships

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Wild Oak Golf Course and the Avera Queen of Peace Wellness Center, both in Mitchell, are the latest entities to join the bundling bandwagon that is sweeping the golf and fitness industries.

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The two local entities signed on recently with GreatLife Malaska Golf and Fitness, a group that includes numerous other golf and fitness facilities in the greater Sioux Falls area. The idea and the pitch are beautifully simple: For a low monthly fee -- as low as $49.99 for individuals -- people can sign up to golf and work out as much as they like at any GreatLife Malaska partner facility.

Ever since we heard about the birth of the GreatLife Malaska group in Sioux Falls, we wondered how long it would take to reach Mitchell. We figured it would be the city of Mitchell that would adapt the idea, and we still think the city should consider it.

Perhaps the city cannot or will not enter such an arrangement with a private entity, and perhaps the private entity would not want a public partner. We don't know those details. Regardless of that, the city could pursue its own version of the bundling phenomenon.

The more we think about the great deal that GreatLife Malaska members are getting, the more irked we are that no discounts are available for Mitchell residents who fork over thousands of dollars per year for multiple memberships.

For example, the total annual cost for a family of four to be members of the city's Lakeview Golf Course, Recreation Center, Outdoor Aquatic Center and Mitchell Activities Center (aka, the ice arena) is $1,481. For many families, there's a good chance they also pay for city garbage collection and cough up money for their kids to participate in the city's summer sports leagues and educational programs.

Yet, no matter how many individual memberships and fees a family pays, there is no bundling discount offered.

The city should join the bundling bandwagon. As families pile up annual memberships and fees for city facilities and programs, they should get some kind of a break. We suspect that with a little promotion, the gain in membership numbers would partially offset the lower prices, and the negative financial impact wouldn't be all that significant.

If it's beneficial for private, profit-motivated businesses to undertake such an arrangement, think how much more beneficial it might be for city government, which exists not to profit from its residents but to provide services to them.

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