A local gym owner is questioning why the Riley County Police Department awarded a no-bid contract with an out-of-town fitness center without allowing locally-owned gyms to make bids.

RCPD recently entered a two-year contract that will pay Wichita-based Genesis Health Clubs $3,125 a month.

RCPD employees will get free memberships to its fitness centers in exchange.

RCPD will cover the cost through its self-insured health fund, and its employees pay into this fund through monthly premiums. If the department’s 250 employees paid the full price, it would cost $15,500 a month.

The contract did not require board approval.

Kevin Fateley, owner of Wildcat Fitness and Fun, said he lost two customers, who are RCPD employees, in one week because they chose to switch their membership to Genesis. He initially brought up the issue during a meeting with RCPD officials and Riley County Law Enforcement Agency Board members last month.

RCPD signed the agreement in December.

The law board, which oversees RCPD, did not officially approve the contract because the department didn’t have to report it to them.

“It’s sensitive to us,” Fateley said. “We, all the area fitness centers, provide that funding there (through city and county taxes to RCPD), and you’ve directed funding to one that’s (based in another community). When you throw that stone up there, that money goes into another community.”

RCPD Director Dennis Butler said he had established an exercise and fitness committee to evaluate the department’s in-house workout room, which was in need of better functioning and updated equipment, and make recommendations to him on how to proceed.

Before the committee had started significant work, Butler said he saw a proposal to increase the storage and employee work area of the department’s evidence room, which was adjacent to the fitness room.

“I didn’t immediately agree to (using the fitness room) because as a lifelong fitness employee, someone who works out, someone who used in house facilities, I understood how critically important it was to have an in-house facility that was easily accessible to encourage employees to exercise,” he said.

Butler said the committee researched different fitness facilities in the community to see if they would meet their needs, and he also looked for local commercial space to move the exercise equipment, which ultimately didn’t work.

Butler said he and the committee like what Genesis offers because the facility, which is currently being constructed at 2704 Allison Ave., is a short distance from the department, and has a wide range of amenities, and extra meeting and training space that RCPD can reserve. Genesis also has locations out of town if employees travel. Genesis officials have said the gym will be open in late March. Genesis’ current gym is at 3011 Anderson Ave.

Chris Robinson, human resource specialist at RCPD, said the committee, comprising officers and administrative staff, did not sit down and speak with gym owners one-on-one.

However, she said she did informally speak with Fateley about partnerships when she signed up for a trial membership at Wildcat Fitness.

Robinson added that one committee member had been a longtime member at Genesis, one signed up at Genesis after learning the in-house facility was being repurposed and another did not have a gym membership. She said the committee ultimately did not partner with Wildcat Creek because of its locations’ distance from RCPD and it had limited resources in terms of what some employees wanted.

“Genesis basically fit the bill in terms of picking up the slack from what we were losing on-site but also expanded on that to include the pool access, the discounted family rates, and there will be some operational needs that will be met,” she said. “It just, quite frankly, seemed like the best bang for the buck, so that’s ultimately how we came to it.”

Robinson said despite the deal with Genesis, employees are not restricted from continuing or starting new memberships at other gyms and in addition, the department continues to promote to employees a list of area gyms that offer discounted rates.

“If they provide you a brand new truck 24/7, why would you go out and buy another truck if you have one free to you?” Fateley said. “That’s my argument.”

Fateley said he did not appreciate not being fully consulted or given a chance to submit a proposal and asked officials to review the contract.

Butler said because the department already is in a contract, it is obligated to follow through with it. He said officials will be monitoring employee usage of the program over the next two years and will determine whether it should be continued.

“The way this contract was put together was if we offered this as a department-wide benefit, there was certain pricing to it which would be way, way less than if (employees) paid for it individually,” he said. “Administering a program like this amongst several different health clubs I felt would have been burdensome to our staff.”

Fateley said he plans to pursue the issue and discussion with RCPD and law board officials.

“I would hope that (RCPD) would allot whatever the allotment is for an employee to go toward (Genesis), and allot that same amount to other gyms in town that the employee may wish to use instead of the mega gym,” he said.