by nathan oster
The Greybull Town Council has officially signed off on the terms of a memorandum of agreement for an outdoor swimming pool, putting the ball squarely in Big Horn County School District No. 3’s court to determine whether to send the issue to voters in the fall.
The council, in a special meeting on Monday, authorized Mayor Myles Foley to execute the MOA, which has been months in the making. It clearly defines the responsibilities of both the town and the school district moving forward, starting with the campaign and proceeding into the election, and if approved by voters, the construction, operation and maintenance of the pool.
Throughout the process, school district leaders have maintained that they want nothing to do with the pool project — and the MOA confirms that. The school district’s role would simply be to offer its bonding capacity to the town for the election.
The town, according to the MOA, is responsible for all costs associated with the development of the MOA, the campaign leading up to the election, the election itself and the aftermath, including construction and all operations and maintenance costs.
Council members on Monday signed off on the document after they were informed that language in the revised MOA will ensure that money set aside up front for unanticipated O&M costs would revert back to the town when the bond is paid in full.
With the town in support of the MOA, it will now head to the school district for consideration.
At least two public hearings are planned, the first for Tuesday, April 12 at 8 p.m. during the school board’s regular meeting. A presentation on the project will be shared and local residents will be invited to offer input.
After the second public hearing — Supt. Barry Bryant said it could take place later this month or at the May meeting — it will be up to the members of the school board to vote on the MOA. If approved, the bond issue would appear on the November general election ballot.
The MOA sets the maximum amount of the bond issue at $1.4 million.
While the MOA was unanimously approved, Councilman Scott Mattis reiterated that he does not support the project. Mattis said he was voting for the MOA because he believes it’s important to have a well-developed, responsible plan in place.
Mattis said he thinks a pool would be a great asset to the community, “but this just isn’t the right time” for it. He cited concerns about the trickle-down effects of the town assuming all the burden of the pool.
The costs will be significant — and there will be repercussions, he said, warning that programs and projects that are currently either being funded or will require funding will need to be scaled back due to the cost of running the pool.
“I just want everyone to know,” Mattis said, “that the council is not unified in endorsing this pool project.”