The Pool Will Open

Numbers on the New Carlisle Pool
$45,618.78 was brought into the pool last year
$50,961.34 in expenses for the pool last season
$10,000.00 was transferred into the pool’s fund during 2015
$4657.44
(*The pool budget is not affected by the $7,200 cost of the 989, 010 gallons of water consumed in 2015. The cost of water is currently covered by the water department.)

One year after the City of New Carlisle narrowly escaped ending the year 2015 in the red; city council members again took up the difficult question of whether or not to open the pool for another season.

Council member Lowell McGlothin made a motion to open the pool for the 2016 season so that council could hold a discussion regarding their views on the $50,000 that must be moved from the general fund balance to allow the city to supplement the pool.

McGlothin stated that he had been contacted by an estimated 50 residents who are in favor of keeping the pool open again this year. McGlothin was joined in his campaign for the pool by council member Rick Lowrey who stated “I would like to see the skate park go away but that’s a whole other issue”. Nearly a year ago Lowrey took a stand in favor of the pool and the skate park noting that the location was popular with youngsters in the area and the need for the city to continue to supplement the cost of the pay phone in the area of the skate park.

Lowrey stated in his remarks that he did not want to see the city spend $50,000 on the pool suggesting that the pool only be allotted $15,000 to open. He further stated that the pool could be closed if the city finance director noticed that the pool was going to lose over $5,000 as it has in the past.

When asked by council for input on the pool loses in the past few years Colleen Harris stated that the city has consistently gone into debt for the pool in the past.

City Manager Randy Bridge spoke frankly on the matter to council stating “it has nothing to do with what I do or do not want to do; the city does not have the money to open the pool”. Bridge stated that he would be remiss if he did not make council aware that by taking the $50,000 to open the pool, it left the city vulnerable should a major break occur at the water plant or water treatment facility. Bridge also noted that due to the decreased hours of the pool operation in 2015 the council could not compare the season to previous years. As the conversation continued in favor of opening the pool, Bridge stated “the budget is not healthy enough to open the pool”.

By her estimate, Harris suggested that the pool has lost approximately $76,000 since 2012 which came from the general fund.

The New Carlisle News contacted Mr. Bridge regarding the costs to keep the pool operating.

Bridge explained that the cost of wages and required benefit withholding is the largest expense which is estimated for 2016 at over $47,000. The pool is required to have lifeguards on duty at all times along with concession workers and other staff. Costs for contract services such as electric and natural gas are estimated at $15,000 as the pool is heated. Other expenses include the start up costs of the concession stand, the maintenance of the grounds and building and repairs. The concession stand has an estimated cost of $8,000 for supplies which is matched by the cost of chemicals for the pool operation.

When addressing the suggestion by Lowrey that the pool could be closed mid-season if the recreational facility was seen to be in the red, Colleen Harris stated that the expenses for the pool would not be fully realized until the season was over. Other concerns expressed by Bridge included how the council would suggest handling the annual memberships that are paid upfront in the season.

Council member Bill Lindsey responded to comments made by his colleagues regarding the pool and city government being seen as a “business”. Lindsey stated “the city is not a business; every dime is the citizens money”. He went on to state “I hate looking at the pool as a business”. Lindsey supported Bridge in his concerns about opening the pool and seeing another loss for the season. Lindsey expressed his concerns that if council voted to open the pool; the city could not afford to operate it at a loss. His question to fellow council members in closing his statement was “how much can this city afford to lose on a pool”.

As the discussion continued it became evident that the opening of the pool would in fact come to a vote. Mayor Mike Lowrey stated that the loss of the pool was not something he could accept. He suggested that the pool is a “service”. In his statement he asked Bridge if he could support the raises requested for two city employees and closing the pool. Bridge stated “yes, they are two different things”. Bridge pointed out the fact that the department heads had not received a raise in several years and have been putting in well over 40 hours per week in service to the city.

Mayor Lowrey asked the question of what the city would do with the site if the pool is in fact closed. He suggested that Bridge would need a “solid plan” of what to do with the site. Bridge stated that he could not come up with a plan in the five to ten minute time frame during the discussion.

Rick Lowrey stated that the council members “owe it to the citizens of New Carlisle” to open the pool. He suggested that he would like to see a monthly report regarding the pool operations despite the fact that Bridge had explained that the majority of expenses will be an upfront investment for the city.

The only community input on the matter came from Ronald Cobb despite the presence at the meeting of the pool manager. Mr. Cobb asked what would happen if the waste water plan needed repairs. Bridge stated that the funding would be needed from the general fund and the city would have no option but to take out a loan and that the debt service does get passed along to the citizens by increased water and sewer rates. Bridge again stated that with only $169,000 in the general fund for 2016 he was not comfortable with the pool opening.

The council member’s role call on the vote passed opening the pool for 2016 by a four to two margin. Council members Ethan Reynolds and William Lindsey voted against the expense.

In our follow-up with Bridge, he explained that the revenues that are estimated include $10,000 from memberships, $15,000 from gate fees and $12,000 from the concession stand. Other income could be as high as an estimated $5,000. This would be for a perfect season and could not be guaranteed.

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