The Chewelah City Council proposed to eliminate the city pool funding in 2013 due to its high operating costs and poor condition. This was discussed at the council’s final budget work session on Oct. 22.
At the Oct. 8 budget session, the council planned to keep the pool open for eight weeks in the summer, similar to the most recent summer season. However, in 2012, it was partly funded by community contributions as the pool funding was originally cut from the 2012 budget.
Funding the pool in 2013 would have used all the parks/pool reserve funding, or $26,000, in addition to another $20,000 in the general fund. General fund pays for community programs such as the park, police, fire, and street maintenance.
Councilwoman Dorothy Knauss said the pool is good to have, but is not a necessity, and only serves 10 percent of the city’s population while saving money for projects like fixing the roads serves 100 percent of the population.
“I’m not against the pool, but we are here to make the hard decisions to serve taxpayers,” Knauss said.
Nick Lasko said the roads have been neglected in the recent past and need attention, and agreed that should take priority over the pool.
Frizzell said the pool is also in poor condition as it loses at least 2,500 gallons of treated water a day to an unknown leak. He said it had lost nearly 2 inches of water since Friday, Oct. 19. The leak would be costly to repair as it is most likely in the pipes or the concrete, Frizzell said.
Knauss said it would not be smart to put so much money toward something in its condition as any immediate funding or patching would be short-term.
Councilman John May said he would like to see the pool stay open as it is an opportunity to teach children water safety, especially when there are so many lakes nearby. He said the city pool has existed for about 40 years.
Councilwoman Carra Nupp said funding a pool is not the primary responsibility of the city and agreed to cut it out of the 2013 budget since there are other alternatives available to families who seek them.
“As a parent, if swimming is a priority, we will take initiative and do something about it,” Nupp said.
If the park/pool reserve money should remain in the reserve account and not used toward 2013 pool operations, Frizzell said it can be used for park specific projects and address its safety issues.
The final proposed 2013 budget will be introduced at the next Chewelah City Council meeting on Nov. 7 at 6:30 p.m. A public hearing on the budget will be held at a following meeting.
The City Council has been required to reduce the general fund by $250,000 due to inappropriate transfer of funds from the electric utility. They have worked since September to find areas to cut, which includes reduction in staffing and programming that does not directly contribute to public health and safety.
For more information on the 2013 budget changes that were proposed at earlier council works sessions, refer to the article submitted by Frizzell (starts on Page 1).
By Kellie Trudeau, The Independent Staff