Minerva Village Council is considering an option to have the village's YMCA run the community's new swimming pool at least for the pool's first year.
Council members discussed the idea at a March 21 workshop after Village Administrator Dave Harp recommended the Y, which operated the village's former pool for 21 years before its closure in April of 2015.
"In my opinion, with this being a new pool, this is a good thing to do," Harp commented. "We'll have somebody set up who knows a lot more about running a pool, and they're willing to consider doing that for us."
Greg Greenlee, chief operating officer of Minerva's YMCA, said the village could use its former contract with the Y as the foundation for a new agreement. He added that the Y's contract with North Canton could also be used as a basic model for Minerva's, although he noted that N. Canton's $250,000 pool operating budget, and thus its pool fee system, "is dramatically different from what we would see here."
According to Harp, Minerva's four-year, .25-percent pool income tax is estimated to generate about $300,000 each year. That amount is enough to pay the anticipated $1.07 million cost of design and construction for the new pool, but it is not enough to pay for maintenance and operation going forward.
Harp said he plans to earmark $280,000 for a fund that could be used to support the pool year to year if expenses exceed revenue. However, he cautioned that Minerva will remain solely responsible for the pool's finances, a point that he said is the same in other communities' pool contracts with the Y.
"If expenses exceed revenues after everything's paid, if they're short, the Y's not going to take the shortage, the village has to, and that's how it's set up with N. Canton," stated Harp.
Much of council's discussion centered on how fee rates for pool usage would be set. Rates were not mentioned in Minerva's former contract with the Y, said Greenlee.
Greenlee recommended that council, not the Y, set the rates; however, he confirmed that the Y operates pools using a membership-based system in which Y members receive discounts, which Harp admitted has raised concerns with some members of Minerva Council in the past.
Council members voiced different opinions about whether pool rates should be set based on whether individuals are residents or non-residents of Minerva.
"With the operation of this pool and the way it's being funded with income tax money, so it's solely on the burden of the taxpayers, I would want a variable rate," Councilman Tim Tarbet remarked.
Greenlee noted that North Canton's seasonal pool passes are based on members' residencies with non-residents paying higher rates than residents; however, day passes cost the same regardless of the member's residency. Councilwoman Becky Stoller said Lisbon sets a basic rate for individual members but charges rates for pool parties based on residency.
Some council members who questioned the idea said people who work in, but do not live in, the village are paying the pool income tax and should not have to pay more to use the pool.
Council also discussed whether rates would be required for anyone who accesses the pool area. Mayor James Waller noted that the village's previous contract required anyone who accessed the pool area to pay for entry regardless of whether the person planned to swim.
Pool hours and the length of the pool's season were points that also came up after Tarbet said they were the source of complaints with the former pool.
"The only complaint I ever heard about when the Y operated the old pool was that they were too quick to close and they closed too early," Tarbet stated.
Greenlee said the YMCA uses an insurance-based index guide to determine whether the pool should close based on weather conditions. Teresa Arrasmith, who directs the Minerva YMCA, added that the Y shuts a pool down to save the community money when not enough visitors are in the pool over a half-hour or longer period. She said the pool would also have to close if it became contaminated to allow for chemical treatment of the water.
Greenlee said council's next step, if it wishes to contract with the Y, is to review the village's former agreement and make changes.
The Y's local branch board must also approve the terms of the contract before it can be signed, he said.