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Pool's future remains in question

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By Josh Claywell

 

The city pool was a hot-button topic at Monday night’s regularly scheduled City Council meeting at the Campbellsville Civic Center.

City employee Cody Wood provided an update to the council, and the news wasn’t good. He said the pool is in need of a total overhaul, which would cost in the neighborhood of $150,000 to fix.

“We’ve worked with a company inside Campbellsville right now to kind of evaluate what kind of options we have and what we can do with it, whether we need to close the pool permanently or open a new one,” Wood told the council. “It’s kind of what we’re up against at this point.”

The repair cost does not include anything for the shower area at the pool, which would run about $30,000 to bring it up to code and renovate the plumbing.

Councilman Dave Nunery asked how much the pool was patronized in the past two years, and Wood said anywhere from 25 to 75 people used it per day. The swimming pool for fiscal year 2016-17 brought in $27,897.35, Wood said, and operating costs were about $50,000.

“You’re already about $25,000 in the hole for operations of the swimming pool,” he said. “And if you were to do a study, we would see that these patrons are the same 100 people all summer long. It’s not the 25,000 citizens Taylor County has. It’s the same people we’re seeing day in and day out.”

Wood said he was told the repairs would make the pool last for another five or seven years, that it wasn’t a long-term fix for the issues plaguing it.

“If we went into debt service for $200,000 – because that’s what it’s going to cost to repair this pool – over five years, you’re looking at $40,000 a year, and you’re already in the hole $25,000,” Wood said. “So you’re looking at about $65,000 a year you’d be spending toward swimming pool expense.”

Mayor Tony Young mentioned Paul Osborne, who has reviewed water parks throughout the state to see if that would be a possible solution for the city.

“He’s gone to several different ones and I visited a couple,” Young said. “The two that would be more fitting for Campbellsville was one similar to Frankfort’s and Elizabethtown’s. I hope that some day we could do that and maybe do it as a joint effort if the county would consider going in with us. I think we need to do a lot more homework and research.”

The city has had a pool since 1956, and Councilman Mike Hall Jr. pointed out the last two years are the only ones a pool hasn’t been operational. He said running a water park will be more difficult than the pool and is concerned the city won’t be able to handle it.

“One concern I have is: if we can’t maintain 300 feet of water line, how are we going to maintain 3 miles of water line?” Hall asked. “The pool is clearly past its useful life. This pool has lasted longer than the original pool built in the ‘50s. If we’re looking at a new water park, I would like folks to consider the fact that having a pool where you can have swimming events and things of that nature is important to our community.”

Young said he doesn’t want to take money from elsewhere in the budget to afford the repairs at the pool.

“This must be a good business decision,” he said. “It can’t be an emotional decision. It can’t be a political decision. It needs to be a good business decision for this community, and we’re not ready to make that decision at this point.”

In other news:

• The council voted to raise water rates by 1.5 percent, with the measure passing by a 6-4 vote.

Councilman Nunery initially wasn’t prepared to present it to the council, but the funds had already been factored into the budget for the next fiscal year.

“I do apologize that I didn’t prepare for that, but I can tell the council that the primary recommendation – perhaps the only recommendation – was that we enact an increase on the water fees,” Nunery told the council.

Councilman Dr. Jimmy Ewing explained what the increase would mean for the city.

The current water and sewer ordinance includes an automatic 3 percent annual increase on rates, but Dr. Ewing said it’s supposed to be reviewed by the water and sewer committee. The committee would then make a recommendation to the City Council on how to proceed.

“Monarch Engineering prepared a cash-flow summary that shows the 3 percent increase, and then they did the same cash-flow summary with no increase,” he said. “The issue that is questionable that they’re not 100 percent sure about is we have started the water transmission line that goes to Lebanon. With that process, they are paying for water that they’ve purchased and we make a small amount of money off of that process. That will generate some new money for the water company.

“After looking at that and the recommendations by Monarch Engineering, the recommendation of the committee was to recommend for next year a 1.5 percent increase on water and sewer rates,” Ewing continued. “That’s what we’re putting forward to the council as a recommendation from the water and sewer committee.”

The 1.5 percent increase will apply to retail water rates, with no recommendation to change the wholesale rates.

“When you look at the rates around the area who supply wholesale water rates, our rates are substantially lower,” Young said. “So that might be something the committee will want to bring to the floor.”

Young asked City Clerk Cary Noe to take a roll-call vote on the measure. Initially, the vote was split with five in favor and five against. But after a brief discussion, Councilwoman Diane Ford-Benningfield changed her vote to yes.

Councilman Randall Herron said a “no” vote would lead to an increase of 3 percent, which would be worse for citizens in the long run.

“No one wants any increase, I agree with that,” he said. “But if you don’t vote, you’re gonna have a 3 percent increase. So it’s automatic. The 1.5 percent from the committee, I think, is the best alternative.”

• The council approved the budget for fiscal year 2018-19. The budget was set at $24,957,542, with $24,757,542 of that for appropriations throughout the year.

The ordinance was introduced and given a first reading and passage at a special called meeting on May 24. Monday was the second reading and was passed unanimously.

• The council approved EMS Director Mike Ramsey to accept bids for two new ambulances for the city.

Young said $230,000 has been set aside to purchase two new medical vehicles. Ramsey told the council the city has four medical units it is responding to calls with, and each has more than 250,000 miles. Ramsey said EMS has averaged 88 long-distance runs a month from January to June this year, translating into 116,000 miles a month.

“Now you know where the miles come from,” he said. “Literally, maintenance is eating us up. As an alternative, we looked at two of the older units and chose to remount versus trying to buy. That, financially, looked good, and we had bids for that.”

Ramsey said engineers called and told him the boxes could not be remounted, that they were older and much heavier than what’s currently being built.

“The people that were looking at rebuilding offered something to us that I wanted to present to you tonight,” Ramsey told the council. “For basically three more thousand dollars than what it was going to cost to do a remount, they can sell us two more trucks. That’s kind of a no-brainer.”

The 2018 model units are on the line being built, Ramsey said, and are being produced by Frontline Ambulance.

The council approved Ramsey to search for bids and proceed with the purchase once that took place.

• The council Approved Morton Salt to provide road salt for the city. Morton’s bid of $94.50 per ton for 100 tons was the lowest among three bids. Detroit Salt Company came in at $95.40, while Compass Minerals America, Inc., checked in at $144.

• The council approved a bid with Waste Connections to deliver solid waste to its station in the city. The contract is for five years.

• Council members adopted the Lake Cumberland Area Development District’s regional hazard mitigation plan.

• The council voted to allow the fire department to declare a 1993 emergency rescue truck as surplus.

The next meeting of the Campbellsville City Council will be on Monday, July 2 at 7 p.m. at the Campbellsville Civic Center.

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