City to tackle pool rules

By The Mercury

City commissioners will dive into the thorniest question of summer — which (if any) adults can walk into the pool area without paying — at their work session Tuesday evening.

The question landed on commissioners desks after members of the public raised heck about policy changes put in place at the pools prior to the start of the season. Prior to this year, adults saying they only intended to oversee their children, but not to swim themselves, were admitted free. This year, however, they, too, are being required to pay the regular admission fee.

That decision prompted protests among parents who felt they should not have to pay in order to sit in chairs and watch their young children. Commissioners last week acknowledged that the number of protests had reached critical mass sufficient to require further discussion.

In documents prepared in advance of Tuesday’s meeting, city officials for the first time alleged that in prior years some adult swimmers had been taking advantage of the city’s liberality. In a memo to commissioners, assistant city manager Jason Hilgers and interim parks and recreation director Eddie Eastes said “often times free entry was allowed to adults who did partake in swimming” even as other adult non-swimmers were charged. “The inconsistencies ion this practice made it difficult to determine exactly what the policy was and how to enforce admissions,” they said.

A second part of Tuesday’s commission discussion will involve the city’s decision not to issue re-entry wristbands this year. The wristbands were designed for use by swimmers who wanted to leave the pool area for a time and then return later the same day. Hilgers and Eastes said that in prior years, “pool staff witnessed …(some patrons) sharing the wristband with others who had not paid for entry.” That, they said, was why the wristband practice was halted.


Tuesday’s session will also involve continuation of preliminary discussions regarding the 2014 city budget. That proposed $131.18 million document represents a $9.3 million increase from the current-year budget, and require about a 2.74 mill levy increase.

Here’s a breakdown of some areas commissioners will look at Tuesday.

General fund: City administrators are proposing a $1.69 million increase in general fund spending, with most of that increase funded by property taxes. The increases would fund upward adjustments to salaries ($493,000), capital improvements ($477,826) and new positions ($219,238), among other elements.

Bond and Interest Fund: Much of the $2.2 million increase is attributed to the voter-approved “quality of life” bond issue supported by a quarter-cent sales tax increase. The bond and interest mill levy is expected to actually decline by 1.15 mills.

Special revenue funds: Two employer benefit funds will require what are described as “modest” levy increases. Purchase of a new fire truck is also envisioned to outfit a recently constructed new fire facility. Street and highway and economic development fund changes are also envisioned.

Enterprise funds: Changes are envisioned in the city’s water, wastewater and stormwater funds.

Those recommendations include a four percent increase in water rates,, although city officials say those changes will generally not affect most users’ monthly bills since they will be targeted at the largest customers.

City officials are recommending a 3 percent increase in wastewater rates, and a 2 percent increase in stormwater rates.

Capital improvement program: City administrators are recommending $548,55i in CIP funding next year. a $477,626 increase compared to 2013.

The meeting will be at 5 p.m. in the Commission Room at City Hall.

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