Pool fee hike floated

"It would be hard to point to more than a small handful of services that haven’t seen a price increase in the last eight years.Admission to the Ray Williamson Memorial Pool for open and lap swimming is one of them – or, rather, will have been if proposed across-the-board user fees increases of 25 to 30 percent take effect in January.Park district commissioners will take up the matter at their Thursday meeting.The price hike is long overdue, said John DeMeyer, the park district’s aquatic facility manager. While user fees remained constant, the pool’s expenses have increased 60 percent since 1992, he said. Yearly fee adjustments have been made to classes, but admission-related expenses such as lifeguard salaries – $4.35 an hour eight years ago, $7.66 today – haven’t seen a balancing boost.“We were a little behind the curve the last few years, and have been slipping further and further behind ever since,” DeMeyer said.There are several factors behind the timing. As many government agencies are doing, the park district is preparing for the possible passage next Tuesday of Initiative 695 – which calls for fee increases to be approved only by popular vote.The district also wants to ease a possible hike in the taxpayers’ subsidy of pool operations by as much as $10,000 as its next maintenance-and-operations levy heads for an islandwide vote in February. Also, figuring Ray Williamson’s 2000 revenues is as tricky as predicting whether Y2K forecasts will come to pass, DeMeyer said. Once ground is broken on the new pool – which district officials hope will happen next spring – it’s not known to what extent construction will curb the existing pool’s operation.“We’re unsure how much closure and inconvenience time we’ll have next year, and so we’re unsure what our revenue picture will be,” DeMeyer said. “We have to make certain assumptions about it now rather than later.”"

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