by nathan oster
A spokesperson for the swimming pool committee told the Greybull Town Council on Monday that a new pool could be built for far less than the $8 million that was originally estimated, but that the key remains getting a majority of the county’s other municipalities to go along with the sixth-cent tax proposal needed to operate and maintain the facility.
Schlattmann said she used the $8 million figure because she wanted to err on the high side —and not say one thing to the community one month and then come back later saying it would cost even more.
Since that meeting, Point Architects, for a fee of $1,000, was able to produce a better picture of the new pool’s costs — and the numbers that firm provided came in far below the $8 million estimate.
The existing pool is 9,000 square feet.
Point estimated that it would cost $4.35 million to build a new pool of exactly the same size and with the same features, including a diving board on the deep end of the six-lane pool.
A slightly larger, 11,500 square foot pool with not only the diving area and six lanes but also a zero entry area and small water slide would cost around $5.2 million to build, according to Point’s estimate.
Both estimates included contingencies of 5 percent.
The committee’s plan is to ask the school district to put the bonding question to voters in the fall general election.
So what would that bond issue cost the average homeowner?
Schlattmann said she got figures from the county assessor’s office showing that the district bonded $2.3 million for the high school. That bond, it should be noted, will be paid off in full later this spring.
For the pool, Schlattmann “doubled that and rounded up” to come up with estimates of what the bond issue would cost. For the owner of a $100,000 home within school district boundaries, it would cost at least $55 per year. The owner of a $200,000 home would have to pay at least $110 more per year if the bond is approved. And for agricultural land valued at $216,000 the cost would be at least $120 per year.
The bond issue is only half of the committee’s equation for success. Operation and maintenance has been and continues to be the biggest obstacle in the swimming pool talks.
Because districts cannot bond only for construction and not O&M, and because those O&M dollars to cover a 20-year period must be accounted for before construction commences, the committee has proposed the imposing of a countywide sixth-cent sales tax.
Schlattmann said Point offered bare bones O&M costs for the two new pools that it proposed.
The pool with the same dimensions as the current pool would cost about $74,000, just for “minimal operating expenses” to keep it running. When the other needs are factored in, that pool’s O&M rises to around $185,000, Schlattmann said.
The larger pool would cost about $200,000 when all things are factored in, which includes Point’s original “minimal operating cost” estimate of $89,000.
Schlattmann said she recent made the pitch to the mayors of seven of the county’s nine municipalities. “I thought they were receptive to it,” she said “The big concern was whether they had a project in their community that would be supported by their community. Not a water or sewer project, but something bigger than that.
“I didn’t hear, ‘Heck no,’ from them, but they just weren’t sure how it would go over with their town councils,” she said.
Schlattmann said Greybull’s share of the sixth-cent tax revenue would be around $2.6 million.
The downside of the sixth-cent idea is that just to get on the ballot, it would need to be supported by the governing bodies of six of the county’s nine municipalities, as well as the Big Horn County commissioners.
And if it makes it onto the ballot, the question of the sixth-cent tax would need to be approved countywide — not just in Greybull or the other communities where the governing bodies put forth projects that would benefit from a sixth cent of sales tax.
Schlattmann said she’s planning to meet with the mayors again in March.
“If six of the nine come back supporting it, then we’ll move forward with it,” she said.
At last month’s meeting, Schlattmann was asked to present the findings of the committee’s informal survey of community residents. While they didn’t talk “with a huge number,” Schlattmann said the committee reached “a good cross section” of the community by visiting the senior center, surveying fans in the stands at a home football game and surveying users of the community hall.
Four questions were asked.
When asked if they would like to have a pool, 144 answered “yes” and four “no.”
If that meant supporting it with their pocketbooks, 108 answered that they would support a bond issue for a new pool, while 25 said that they would not.
An indoor pool was strongly preferred by respondents, with only eight of the 132 people surveyed saying that they would prefer an outdoor pool.
Lastly, the committee asked people what they would like to have in the pool. People were given the open of marking items, and of those who responded, 104 said they would like a diving area, 94 said they’d like a wading area, 42 wanted a slide and seven wanted something else, such as a hot tub.