by nathan oster
The Greybull Town Council devoted a portion of its special meeting Monday night to discussing the short- and long-term financial implications that would be associated with the construction, operation and maintenance of an outdoor swimming pool.
Earlier this month, Supt. Barry Bryant penned a letter to the town in which he expressed concern about “the very limited planning” done by the town and requested documentation from the town stating that they had “done due diligence” and is “standing behind the estimates provided.”
Mayor Myles Foley stated at the beginning of Monday’s presentation that the town had, in fact, done extensive planning, and Administrator/Finance Director Paul Thur then proceeded to outline the specifics of the town’s business plan for the outdoor swimming pool.
The town has previously stated its intent to ask the school board for the use of its bonding capacity to bond for $1.34 million for the construction of the outdoor pool. Measuring 45 feet by 75 feet, the pool would be rectangular, have a diving board and depths ranging from 3 feet to 10 feet. The pool and a bathhouse would be built in the vacant lot next to the Herb Asp Community Center.
Other than the use of its bonding capacity, the school district would provide no further support for the swimming pool, making it entirely the town’s responsibility should voters approve the bond in the November general election.
Among the items presented for discussion on Monday night were estimates from Thompson Pools and Interstate Engineers, both of which have extensive experience with outdoor swimming pools.
An estimate from Interstate Engineering set the cost of the pool construction at $1.1 million, with the bathhouse expected to cost an estimated $319,000 and the pool itself $594,000. An approximately 25 percent contingency is going to be built into the $1.34 million bond issue.
The bond would be paid back over a period of 10 years. The Greybull Swimming Pool Committee has stated that if you have property assessed at $100,000 it will cost you $12.22 per year for 10 years.
Using figures from Thompson Pool as well as historical figures for the old Greybull swimming pool, which in its final years was operated only during the summer months, the town has developed a business plan that covers anticipated revenues and expenditures for the outdoor pool.
Thur presented that plan on Monday night.
The town is projecting $10,000 in pool revenue and another $3,000 through the sale of concessions, for total revenues of $13,000. The revenue projection is in the same ballpark as the actual figures for the pool from the summers of 2009 through 2012, when use was limited to the summer months. Most of that revenue was — and moving forward, would be expected to be — generated through swimming lessons, which are typically held early in the summer. An estimated $3,000 is anticipated in revenues from concessions, something the pool committee has been urged to offer if it builds the pool.
On the expenditures side, the town is anticipating $41,883 in spending, which includes $23,453 for lifeguards, $2,330 for a pool manager, $6,000 for chemicals, $6,500 for utilities and $3,600 in miscellaneous expenses. Thompson Pools provided the estimates for the chemicals, utilities and miscellaneous expenses.
In terms of manpower, the $23,453 set aside for lifeguards would pay for 2.33 lifeguards working 12 hours per day, 85 days per season, at $9 per hour. That would represent a raise over the $7.50 per hour paid in the old pool’s final days.
A pool manager would be needed to oversee the day-to-day operations. The town envisions the pool manager working two hours per day and paying that person approximately $12.50 per hour.
The town would be responsible for making up the approximately $29,000 difference between the anticipated expenditures of $42,000 and anticipated revenues of $13,000. Thur said in a follow-up interview Tuesday that a variety of sources including “potentially (proceeds from) the lodging tax, donations from local businesses, reserves, or any combination of those three” will be needed to erase the deficit.
Thur’s report to the council on Monday night also included a spreadsheet showing an overview of how the next 10 fiscal years might look in terms of major expenditures across the various town departments.
Council members ended the discussion by asking Thur to draft a letter to school leaders stating budget projections for the next 10 years and emphasizing the board’s strong level of confidence in the O&M cost estimates provided by Thompson Pools.
As he has done throughout the pool talks, Councilman Scott Mattis voiced opposition, saying he is “even less optimistic” about the town’s ability to cover operation and maintenance costs moving forward. In spite of that, Mattis said he’s “resigned” to sending it to a vote of the people, “if the school board sees fit,” because “that’s where we seem to be headed.”