On June 9, the City Commission voted to keep the pool closed for the summer of 2020. This was a difficult decision, but concerns over safety and operational limitations were too great to open the pool this year. Operationally, the pool experience would look very different this year compared to a normal year, but our greatest operational limitation is our inability to get lifeguards certified until mid-July. Furthermore, many of our lifeguards start school in mid-August, earlier than normal, and so we would likely only be able to keep the pool open until August 10.
Pool/Wellness Center Operating Tax
The pool and recreation facility millage covers the operating and maintenance costs for the pool and the community center building, including the wellness center.
The only costs we are avoiding this summer by keeping the pool closed are the personnel costs to staff the pool with lifeguards (about $25,000), some utility costs to heat and fill the pool with water (about $8,000), and pool chemicals (about $8,000). In total we expect to see about $40,000 of cost reductions. The swim team and summer camp sustain themselves through user fees, so there is no cost impact to the City budget through their cancellation.
The maintenance costs associated with the pool and wellness center will still remain. We still need to maintain the pool and its mechanical equipment, heat and cool the building, and perform maintenance tasks at the community center building.
The wellness center will re-open as soon as is permitted by the Governor. Once gyms and fitness centers are allowed to open, so will ours. There will likely be some additional costs for us to operate consistent with state guidance for gyms and fitness centers, but we don’t know and can’t estimate what that will be yet.
The $40,000 of avoided cost is about 18% of the total pool/fitness center operating budget. If we were to refund that to residents, it would be on average about $35 per house.
Our plan is to instead use the $40,000 to take care of some maintenance items at the pool and wellness center. The pool and wellness center were built over 15 years ago, and we are seeing more maintenance costs crop up as we get to the end of the first life cycle for the building and equipment. We find lately that we can’t address all of the maintenance items on our list in any one budget year. While this pool closure is hugely disappointing, it does give us the opportunity to make a few extra capital investments to keep the facility in good shape for years to come.
Specifically, we will:
- Address a few roof and HVAC issues at the wellness center ($5,000)
- Replace the sand in the pool filter ($16,000)
- Replace the machines at the wellness center. In the past we have leased those machines for 4-year terms. The cost has been about $21,000 per year, or $84,000 for the 4 year term. Our lease has just expired on the current batch of machines, and we are going to purchase our own machines to replace them at a cost of about $45,000. The various machines have life expectancies of 5-7 years, so going forward we expect to spend about $10,000 a year on replacement and maintenance. Over the long run, this averages out to about $15,000 a year, so we will save about $6,000 per year in the long run by making this investment now.
- We are purchasing new pool deck furniture and umbrellas. This is a cooperative purchase with Foundation assistance. ($26,000 total)