On August 8, 2017, Councilors Chrobocinski and O’Leary will present “Discussion and Possible Action Relating to Proposed Changes to the Capital Improvement Program (CIP) Fund.” There will be recommended action on recreation projects for the bond election which failed on May 23, 2017.
The following are my recommended actions:
I strongly recommend that the $13.4 million of CIP funds be used to improve existing facilities: the golf course and softball fields. The Splash Pad had an estimated cost of $720,000 with $37,000 yearly operations and maintenance costs. Through a competitive bidding process, it could be done at a significantly lower cost. $350,000 with $20,000 yearly operations and maintenance is reasonable.
I strongly urge the Council to wait for the LANL contract to be awarded in April 2018, and our budget to be finalized, before directing our County Staff to begin work on the multi-generational pool. Our financial situation could change quickly, with budget cuts and possible lay-offs. We must prioritize the needs of our community, and adjust the CIP funding expected for this project accordingly.
Yes, I am one of many, who signed the petition to build the multi-generational pool. But we must do this in a fiscally responsible, economically sustainable way. I am hearing about perpetual operational losses and disgruntled citizens frustrated with the inadequate maintenance of our Aquatic Center. We ought to improve what we already have, before building more. We must expand incrementally, and find more cost-effective ways to pay for these additions and upgrades. Why not a Warm Water weekend, every single weekend? The kids love it; families love it; I love it! Why not build a big water slide on the Aquatic Center’s main pool.
We need a business minded approach to generate revenues, minimize costs, and maximize efficiency, or else we, the taxpayers, will once again bear the burden of financial losses. I am concerned about new operations and maintenance costs. $426,000/year, that could be far more than projected. I am concerned that this project would force our private pools to close down. We should consider a private-public partnership. For example, a membership to both the multi-generational pool and a private pool could be offered at a special rate.
I have said repeatedly during the campaign that I support a robust, diverse means of funding the Recreation Center. We must engage the private sector! We must look at models that have been used nationwide to expand their recreational facilities.
Lastly, you proposed that “the County might commission further conceptual design and cost estimation of the Recreation Center so that the community can be better informed about likely financial impact of this project when it is reconsidered.” Yet on June 15, 2016, the County agreed to pay Consultant Dekker/Perich/Sabatini, $453,281 for full service architectural and engineering services, marketing and advertising, for 12 projects, which included this Recreation Center. If you are suggesting another outrageously expensive contract, it would be redundant, and another wasteful use of public resources. By the way, this money could have fully paid for a Splash Pad!
Respectfully, Councilors James Chrobocinski and Susan O’Leary, thank you for considering my recommendations.