Monday, 27 June 2022

Robertson: Community can work together to support the Westshore Pool

I have a lot of fond memories growing up in a small Southern California town with a community pool, tennis courts and little league fields.

Some members of our community have expressed disappointment and betrayal that there is not sufficient funds left in the Lakeport Unified School District bond to complete the Westshore Pool Complex renovations. They believe the school board has been fiscally irresponsible by not making the pool a higher priority.

Community pool operations normally don’t take in enough revenue to pay annual operating expenditures.

A few local examples are:

– The city of Ukiah has an annual budget for the operation of the Ukiah municipal swimming pools for aquatics programs and events. During the last three years, the program has had an operating deficit in excess of $350,000. The recommended annual budget for 2018-19 projects an operating deficit of $160,000.

– The Fort Bragg Aquatic Center lost significant amount of money during its first 15 months of operations. In 2010, the annual operating budget was approximately $500,000 per year while its revenue was just $334,000 per year. To keep the pool open, Fort Bragg voted a 0.50-percent sales tax increase in 2012 to fully fund the annual operations.

– The City of Lakeport provides assistance toward operating costs of the Westshore Pool complex. Lakeport has provided over $165,000 in support of operating costs for the pool during the previous three years. The 2018-2019 annual adopted budget for the city of Lakeport has reduced the level of support to $3,000. Any future operating deficits of the Westshore Pool Complex will have to be covered by the Lakeport Unified School District by reducing services to students.

The Lakeport Unified School District has demonstrated fiscal responsibility by focusing on the Measure T Bond projects that directly benefit the students.

It is also clear that the community supports the Westshore Pool complex. The sistrict has successfully partnered with the city of Lakeport in the past to help offset operating costs of the Westshore Pool complex, and to minimize the impact on student services.

Rather than making the Westshore Pool complex a divisive issue, our community would be better served by working to together to solve the financial problems often associated with a community pool.

The Mendocino Coast Recreation & Park District has successfully partnered with the city of Fort Bragg, the Fort Bragg Unified School District, the California Recreational Alliance and others to insure the success of its community pool.

There is no reason that our community could not do the same.

John Robertson lives in Lakeport, Calif.

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