Pool fees on the rise

COLUMBIANA – City pool users could be paying higher fees this year if a recommendation from the park board passes council.

Park Manager Terry Shaffer said a change is needed to keep up with rising costs of operating over the years. The fees have not been changed since 2006.

“Rates have not been adjusted in eight years, and we just need to make some money at the pool,” he said.

He and other pool employees compared the adjusted rates to those at other public pools, he added.

The suggestion is to raise the daily rate by $1, which would result in $6 for adults and $4 for children under 18 years Monday through Sunday and holidays, and to raise family passes for non-residents from $25 to $50. Daily rates for senior citizens are also $4.

Originally the board had considered raising family passes for both residents and non-residents by $25 each, but opted for raising the non-resident passes only.

The suggestion, if approved, will also raise passes for families with four or less members to $150 for residents and $250 for non-residents.

Families with more than four members will be charged $20 for each additional family member, for both residents and non-residents.

Individual resident passes would be set at $50 and non-resident set at $100, and swim lessons would be raised to $15.

“We just thought that would be the best financial way to go. We are just trying not to beat up anybody financially but at the same time make some money,” he said.

Council gave a first reading of the fee legislation last week.

Shaffer said the pool lost money last year partly because of the weather, which caused a few closures.

“We didn’t have good weather for public swimming pools last year. Hopefully this summer will be better weather wise,” he said.

According to the park budget, the pool took in $45,665 in ticket sales last year and $29,640 in season passes, down from $61,482 and $32,255 from 2012. Concession sales were also down last year compared to 2012 by a difference of $8,462. Operating the stand cost $21,916 last year.

The pool’s finances are recorded in the overall park fund, which dipped into the red by $12,693 last year.

Shaffer didn’t have anything in particular to attribute to the decline, other than the rising cost of living and the pool being closed due to weather.

The park fund pays the salaries and wages of all park and pool employees, including overtime, insurance and worker’s compensation. Since 2012 the park has paid just under $65,000 in employee benefits, with $69,000 projected for this year.

Salaries and wages for this year are projected at $193,000 for Shaffer and the park’s assistant manger, laborers, pool help, part-time summer help, book-keeper and payroll clerk. The figure is roughly $12,000 higher than the salaries and wages paid in 2012 and 2013.

Shaffer said the pool is staffed by 27 lifeguards who work on a rotating basis. Five lifeguards must be employed at the pool during a shift on a typical day, with two working in the concession stand.

The pool opens May 24 with hours set at noon to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Sunday. The pool closes for the season on Labor Day weekend.

Outside of weather closures, the pool will only close to the public at 4 p.m. on four separate Wednesdays to accommodate the Firestone Area Swim Team meets.

Shaffer said the lifeguards must be certified, with the least experienced earning minimum wage, which was increased this year to $7.25.

Of the 27 on staff this year five are head guards who serve as shift leaders.

Shaffer is a Red Cross lifeguard instructor and will be teaching classes in June, July and August for those interested in becoming lifeguards next year.

Instruction fees are paid to the Red Cross.