Pool finances dominate budget talks


"It'd be nice to bring in some federal people and say, 'Watch this, this is how you do it,'" Cottage Grove City Manager Richard Meyers said in opening the 2017-2018 budget meeting on May 9. The city of Cottage Grove's budget committee approved a balanced after a marathon three-hour meeting but it wasn't without input from the community on the financial state and future of the Warren H. Daugherty Aquatic Center. 

The city routinely submits $50,000 to the operation of the pool but after the facility's manager Carrie McCasline addressed the city council earlier this month, residents learned that the pool has been depleting its reserve funds to continue paying the bills. 

However, councilman Jake Boone noted that the $50,000 the city gave to the pool had initially began as a "temporary" funding and while he understood the pool's purpose in the community, said the city may need to look into rolling back the payment in the future after receiving nearly one-quarter of a million dollars from the city over the years.

The notion came after McCasline informed present residents and the budget committee that if the city were to halt the $50,000 payment, the pool would be forced to increase fees and prices by 67 percent. "Just to give you an idea, fitness passes for seniors would go from $25 to $42 per month and some seniors have trouble paying the $25," McCasline said. "A family pass would go from $306 to $511 if we raised prices the 67 percent." Resident Pat Paterson and his daughter Molly commented on the pool's importance to the community with Molly noting that her father had utilizing the pool after being told by doctors he needed to increase his activity. "He doesn't need a cane in the pool," she said, going on to note that seniors in the community needed the pool to remain active.

Local children were also touted as pool regulars with McCasline informing the committee that 335 children were currently enrolled in swim classes, not including the 25 children who took private swim lessons at the facility. However, despite public comment in support of the pool, the budget committee opted to leave the city's funding for the facility at its current $50,000 level. Councilor Mike Fleck noted his disagreement with the city attorney's request that he recuse himself from the final vote due to his position at Community Sharing. The organization is included in the city budget and because Fleck receives compensation from the entity, he was asked to recuse himself from the final vote.

The final vote approved a buget with final expenditures for all funds of $33,115,728 with $70,000 moved to the police department to be used for an evidence storage shed. Meyers drew attention to the intangible concept of the budget in his message, writing, " think about numbers as you walk or drive on a small portion of the 50 miles of streets, think about the 49 miles of water pipes, the 46 miles of sewer pipes or the 31 miles of storm drain pipes under your feet. Hopefully you will feel safer as you go home because of the 509 street lights. As you reach home know that if you need it, there is one of the 431 fire hydrants nearby and there is over 4 million gallons of water behind that hydrant to save your home and property in the event of a fire. Feel better that within the 4 square miles of the city there are at least two police officers on patrol and they are just a phone call away. Within the next week take the opportunity to get outside and enjoy just a small piece of the 244 acres of park land or just curl up in a comfortable chair with one of the 45,000 books from the library. All this and so much more is silently and without any fanfare made available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year through the work of about 79 people. The numbers in this budget impact your neighbors, friends, family and you every day."

BUDGET BY THE NUMBERS 

Expenditures for all funds: $33,115,728

City's permanent rate: $7.2087/$1,000 of assessed value

Full levy estimated to garner: $4,310,850 in tax revenue

Combining public works and community development departments saves: $120,000

Water bill increase: $3.14 monthly increase for residential users using 5,000 gallons of water

Added funds for water rate increase: $54,400 in the Water funds (Water and Water surcharges), $76,700 in the Wastewater funds (Wastewater and Wastewater surcharges) and $62,700 in the Storm Drain funds

Marijuana tax revenue: $0. The state must reimburse the liquor and licensing department before paying out tax revenue funds to municipalities.

Marijuana revenue budgeted: $15,000 to serve as a placeholder until the city receives funds from the tax.

General fund subsidized the Building Inspection Fund with a transfer of: $10,810

New debt:$1,000,000 in wastewater to complete capital projects as described in the 5 year plan.

For the complete budget, visit cottagegrove.org


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