Sep
20
2019
Yellow Springs
73°
clear sky
humidity: 88%
wind: 7mph SSW
H 83 • L 76
Village Council

Village to raise pool rates

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The first rate hike in a decade at Gaunt Park Pool will likely take effect later this summer, with most of the increase to be paid by out-of-town visitors and day pass users.

At its June 3 meeting, Council passed by a vote of 3–1 the first reading of an ordinance to raise rates at the municipal pool.

Season passes for village residents will be raised $3–$5, depending on the pass, while nonresident season passes will go up $17 each, according to the option selected by Council.

Daily admission fees for both residents and nonresidents are set to jump from $5 to $8.50 for adults and $3.50 to $4 for children.

Council Members Lisa Kreeger and Kineta Sanford joined Vice President Marianne MacQueen in voting for the increase. Council President Brian Housh voted against the measure, while Council member Kevin Stokes was absent.

Housh had been pushing for an option that would freeze season pass rates for residents and pass on 100 percent of the increase to nonresidents and day pass users.

In his comments, Housh said he appreciated that the Gaunt Park Pool — the only public pool in the county — was used by nonresidents, but that taxpayers already bear most of the costs to maintain the pool.

“We are the only pool in Greene County, and we’ve invested in the pool to keep it nice,” Housh said. “At the end of the day, our taxpayers pay for this service.”

Village staff recommended that Council split the cost increase between residents and nonresidents 50/50. Instead, Council opted for a 30/70 split.

The majority of pool users, about 60 percent, are village residents, while 40 percent hail from Miami Township or elsewhere, according to Bates at the meeting.  Figures were not available on how many day pass users are residents.

Last year the Village spent $104,774 to maintain and upgrade the pool, while it brought in $68,654, according to figures provided to Council. Over the last nine seasons, the Village spent close to half a million dollars to subsidize the pool. 

Village Manager Patti Bates has said the rate hike was needed because of the high cost to maintain the pool. In addition, Yellow Springs charges less compared to most area pools, according to Village Parks and Recreation Coordinator Samantha Stewart. Those pools charge about $2–$10 more for daily admission, Stewart noted.

Other pools may not compare to Gaunt Park pool because they may have water park features, according to Sanford. The village also might be competing with free splash pads in Xenia and Fairborn, Public Works Director Johnnie Burns noted. 

Sanford and Kreeger both expressed concerns that a large increase to nonresidents might effect those who cannot afford private pools. The Village’s program to discount pool rates for low-income families, Swim for All, is only available to residents.

“If we put 100 percent of it on nonresidents, some people might not have access to the pool. That troubles me,” Kreeger said.

From the floor, Dan Dixon said that such a large price jump might actually cut into the Village’s pool revenue, as nonresident swimmers opt for other area pools.

“Only a government would think you could increase prices by 50 percent and not affect attendance,” Dixon said. “You’re cutting the golden goose open.”

The last time rates were increased, in 2009, daily admission rates rose 50 cents and season passes increased by $5, except for households (five or fewer members), which was raised by $20, according to Stewart.

The legislation would take effect as early as July 17. 

In other Council business —

Planner, tech contracts renewed

Council approved contracts for Village Planning and Zoning Administrator Denise Swinger and a Dayton-based IT contractor.

Council approved a two-year contract with Swinger, for $68,286 plus benefits. Swinger, who started in the position as a part-time hourly employee four years ago, will now be salaried.

Because Swinger’s work has increased in recent years and she maxed out her overtime as an hourly employee, the Village would actually save money by moving her to a salaried position, Bates said.

“This is the best thing for the Village, as far as the use of taxpayer dollars,” she said.

Council also approved a one-year extension of its IT contract with TechAdvisors of Dayton. The rates will stay the same as for the prior three-year contract, with monthly service of $2,714 with additional hourly support at $109 per hour. 

Pottery shop agreement

Council discussed a proposed agreement between the Village and John Bryan Community Pottery, or JBCP, which has run a pottery studio in a village-owned building behind the Bryan Center for 40 years.

Under a five-year lease agreement, the nonprofit will now pay rent of $300 per month, an amount that increases 5 percent annually, and also pay one-third of the cost to upgrade the building. That share is estimated to be $12,000.

JBCP Treasurer Roger Reynolds thanked the village for its support.

“Thanks to the village for an unbelievable arrangement over the last 40 years,” Reynold said. He added that it was “long past due” for the group to pay rent for the studio, and also emphasized the group’s contribution to the local art scene.

County grant to upgrade parking

Council decided to spent a $22,084 grant from Greene County on two municipal parking lots. A proposal to use the same funds to engineer a parking lot at Beatty Hughes Park was scrapped at Council’s previous meeting. 

The Village will spend about half the money to complete the parking at the former basketball courts at the Bryan Center. The remaining funds will be used to remove trees from the back of the parking lot at 102 Dayton St. and add gravel to that lot. Three donation boxes will also be added at the two parking areas. 

Lodging tax funds to pay for sidewalk

Council decided to spend the $53,000 it collected last year from a 3 percent lodging tax to pave a new section of sidewalk along Fairfield Pike. The Village has already committed to completing that sidewalk as part of a Safe Routes to School project. 

From the floor, Mills Park Hotel owner Jim Hammond spoke against the tax. He said that Council enacted the legislation to address a deficit, but had a surplus last year. In addition, the small number of tourists that stay in the village don’t have a negative impact on Village infrastructure, Hammond said.

“There is no burden caused by tourism — especially the five percent who stay in the village,” he said.

Council members defended the tax and their discretion in spending it. 

Residential solar change 

During citizens comments, Harvey Paige expressed his frustration about a change to how residential solar energy producers are compensated.

Paige, who erected a 3-kilowatt solar array at his Meadow Lane residence in 2011, said he was not notified that rates would be “trued up” at the end of the month, rather than the end of the year, which means his summer surplus won’t cancel out his winter use.

“I feel stabbed in the back,” Paige said.

The Village has 24 interconnection agreements with wind and solar electric producers who are living in town, according to Bates last year. 

Resolutions of support, opposition

Council unanimously passed three resolutions addressing various local, state and national issues.

Council passed a resolution “supporting the resilience of LGBTQ persons and the legacy of LGBTQ culture during YS Pride Week 2019: June 23–June 30.”

Council also passed a resolution opposing House Bill 6, which could increase rates for municipal electric communities by replacing Ohio’s renewable energy portfolio standards to subsidize nuclear power. 

Finally, Council passed a resolution asking Ohio legislators to restore state funds from the Local Government Fund. The Village would have an additional $698,000 in its coffers had those funds not been slashed by 50 percent in 2011, according to the resolution. 

Council’s next regular meeting is Monday, June 17, at 7 p.m. in Council chambers.

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