Archive for Thursday, January 28, 2010

Aquatic center sees first fee increases since opening

January 28, 2010

Rising costs, declining attendance and its first major maintenance need will likely mean the fee increases at the De Soto Aquatic Center for the coming season.

Summer issues preoccupied the De Soto City Council on a cool January evening last Thursday as it considered the need for fee increases, the pool’s snack and beverage policy and the city’s mowing contract.

he city has not raised its gate fees since the pool opened in 2006 and, as a report showed, De Soto fees are now considerably lower than those in neighboring cities.

Adding to the revenue woes at the aquatic center has been a steady decline in attendance since it opened in 2006 with the novelty of the new wearing off, new pools opening in neighboring cities and two straight cool, wet summers. Revenue from the pool feel from $105,509 in 2006 to $71,700 in 2009 while expenses — primarily tied to minimum wage increases from pool employees — grew from $138,000 in the pool’s first year to a projected $270,000 for the coming season.

The pool’s cost overrun is picked up the mill levy, meaning mill levy support for the pool has increased from about .6 of a mill in 2006 to 3 mills in 2009.

Council members agreed the numbers made a fee adjustment inevitable before the pool opened in late May. It was agreed the city should attempt to build season membership by offering the current rates to those who purchased season passes before a pre-season cutoff date, such as April 1 or May 1.

Contributing to the need for a fee increase is the need to repaint the pool after four seasons of use. De Soto Parks and Recreation director Jay Garvin said it was discovered paint peeling and fading when the pool was drained last September, or one month after the 2010 budget was completed. When notified, the pool’s designer, Larkin Aquatic, said pool’s need repainting every four to five years.

Garvin said two different contractors have visited the pool and indicated it would cost from $36,000 to $41,000 to prepare and repaint the pool.

Not wanting to defer the maintenance for another year, the council indicated it would agree to City Administrator Pat Guilfoyle’s suggestion the money be borrowed from the city’s electric utility fund and paid back in the next two years.

Garvin told the council he would return next month with detailed bids.

Last summer, the council agreed to revisit the pool’s snack and beverage policy when it decided to allow pool patrons to bring, but restricted their use a confined area near the snack bar.

Council members agreed last week to return to the original policy, which banned pool users from entering with food or drinks.

Finally, the council agreed to renew its mowing contract with Kansas Land Management for 2010.

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