The mayor of Sussex says it's time people in the surrounding communities start paying to use the town's arena and the issue could soon go to a vote.

Marc Thorne says the 8th Hussars Sports Centre was in the red by about $150,000 last year and Sussex residents have been shouldering the deficit alone for years.

But the majority of users — about 65 per cent — live outside of town limits, he said.

Thorne had proposed about a one-cent property tax increase per $100 of assessed value for all of the surrounding areas and local service districts to help foot the bill.

"For most people that would run between $10 or $20 a year on their tax bill to help finance the shortfall of the arena, so that all the users, all of the children, could afford the programs," he said.

Thorne says the local service districts have rejected the idea, but one woman in Apohaqui is hoping to change that.

Stacey Charlton is circulating a petition to get the five surrounding districts to hold a referendum to decide whether to increase taxes.

"We're not asking them to spend thousands of dollars and I don't think that's too much to ask," she said.

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The 8th Hussars Sports Centre was about $150,000 in the red last year, says Sussex Mayor Marc Thorne. (CBC)

"We can't foot the bills as clubs because our numbers will go down. You know, we can't survive that way," Charlton said.

"We do not want to fold our clubs. We need this for our children.The children need a place where they can go."

The petition will be given to the minister of local government and a vote could be held as early as next month, Charlton said.

But some people who live in other local service districts, such as Anne Webb-Thorne, argue they shouldn't have to pay.

At $1,500 for two days of hockey a week, she'll be pulling her kids from the sport next year, she said.

Webb-Thorne said there are other options.

"There's no canteen there, there's no charge for people to get in, I think there's ways for money to be made," she said.

People who live in the LSDs already spend a lot of money in Sussex, Webb-Thorne added.

"We're business owners, and we spend hundreds of thousand dollars a year in this town between banking and fuel. i just think that we already contribute."

Meanwhile, the 11 groups that use the arena for activities, such as hockey and figure skating, will have to pay more, the mayor said.

The Town of Sussex, the Village of Sussex Corner and the Village of Norton have agreed to subsidize their residents who use the arena.

People who live in LSDs will not be subsidized.