The current lease to the Piedmont Swim Club expires in June 30, 2008. PSC is currently considering a non-negotiated offer from the City of Piedmont to extend the lease for a period of 18 months, through December 2009. The lease extension is not advantageous to the members of PSC and I would be surprised if PSC accepts it. (PSC Board Letter) Among other reasons, the proposed extension is effectively a 1 year deal to PSC because no additional members are likely to be added from 7/1/09 to 12/31/09 and membership dues are paid in the Spring. Because the operation of the pool depends on member dues and because the City has rejected PSC proposals to raise revenue by selling memberships to Piedmont City and School District employees, charging the Piedmont Swim Team for its use of the pool and/or for a rent rebate, a one year lease simply doesn’t fit within any conceivable successful business operation model for the PSC.*
So, unless another arrangement can be worked out, the City of Piedmont will take over operation of the pool on July 1, 2008. (Maybe the 4th of July Parade will be a pool party instead.)
The community has not voted to authorize the City to incur the costs necessary to operate the pool and now You Don’t Get To Vote On It!
There was a proposal before the City Council last Monday night to put the following non-binding resolution on the ballot: “Should the City of Piedmont consider use in the future of the City’s General Fund revenues to operate and maintain a community aquatics facility including a swimming pool suitable for use by high school and area competitive swim teams?” The City Council voted 3-2 to reject putting this matter on the ballot. I didn’t want to sit through the Ann Martin Center discussions, so I can’t tell you why you don’t get to vote on this. But I can tell you that it’s going to cost you some coin.
In his October 3, 2006 Staff report to the City Council, Mr. Grote reported that Sports Management Group estimated that the City’s operation of the pool could require a subsidy of $327,000. As I understand it the operating budget of the pool is approximately $650,000.00. PSC members’ dues are already paid up through June 30, 2008 so there will be no additional revenue to the PSC in 2008. And if the City takes operation of the pool on July 1, 2008 it will likely not be able to obtain significant revenue from operation of the pool and deferred maintenance costs may be high, so the figure of $327,000 is likely to be low for 2008.
The proposed Civic Center Master Plan will be unveiled tonight and it includes a larger new pool complex, refurbishing 801 Magnolia and a $4,000,000.00 parking structure. There is currently no real funding for such a plan. And even if there were, it would be years before a shovel hits the ground. PSC detractors have often blurred the discussion of the inadequacy of the facilities with the operation and management of the pool. But the City taking over operation of the pool does not in anyway guarantee that a new pool complex will be built soon. And, of course, a new pool complex would be even more expensive to operate and maintain.
The failure of the City Council to separate these issues adequately and their inaction with regard to extending the pool lease while the discussion of a new pool complex, its funding and its construction could be sorted out and the failure of the City Council to bring this issue before the voters has made the City’s operation of the pool – without voter approval – a virtual fait accompli. So there we are, stuck holding the bill, hoping for a new pool, but with no money to pay for it and several large capital projects (Coaches Field, Hampton Field, refurbishing 801 Magnolia, renovation of City Hall and KCOM, sewers) all vying for the same public funds. In the meantime, revenue from real estate transfer taxes will go down so the City will have lower revenue and Oh! there’s that whole $56,000,000 school thing going on … Drew * Note: I’m pretty sure that the PSC didn’t ask for this, but PUSD currently uses the facility for free. Will that continue when the City takes over operation?