|Composed 28 Aug 2011||Council to discuss on Aquatic Center Operating Contract - Recreation Facility Plan is on the agenda for the 31 Aug Administration Committee Meeting (5 pm at City Hall). If you really want to know what is going on, the best chance for you to get this knowledge is to attend this committee meeting. Check the Agenda Page|
Articles Composed May 7th
During the Aug 16th Administration Committee meeting council was presented two contracts concerning the YMCA. One was to hire the YMCA to run the new Aquatic Center and the other was to hire the YMCA to run the city parks.
When the Aquatic Center was revealed to the public on March 14th council stated they intended to hire the YMCA to run the aquatic center (See page 5 of the council minutes, or the video about minute 45). During the public hearing May 23rd council told city residents no decision on who would operate the facility had been made.
The Feasibility Study / Master Plan on page 11 tells us the optimum aquatic facility for Huber Heights would be built to handle 1322 people during peak hour. In section 4 (starting page 24) we learn the city will build a facility with a peak hour capacity of 900 people (also see pg 47 of Public works minutes)
During the May 4th Public Works Committee meeting there was a feasibility study presentation. This presentation had a few more slides than the actual feasibility study. Included in this presentation were case studies for operating costs (minutes pages 48 - 50). There is no video to check but from my memory a question was asked as to what was the biggest reason that some of the facility's were making money and other's were revenue neutral or losing money. I remember the presenter replied that the facilities that were making $50,000 to $100,000 were the ones being run by the cities and the ones that were just breaking even or losing money were the ones where the city hire someone else to run the facility.
There are three items council should reveal in a public forum before committing to paying the YMCA $75,000 a year to run the new Aquatic Center.
1. In the City run versus Contractor run option, what discussions or other information did council find that makes choosing the path where the city does not make money is better than the one where the city makes $50,000 to $100,000 a year? (Sept 7th Note: I did a quick read on the latest version of the proposed contract, if there isn't a clause in it I missed then the original characterization I made probably is incorrect. From the feasibility study it looks like the YMCA is signing up to provide $349,000 of services for no more than $100,000. A great deal for the tax payer but probably unsustainable for the full 3 years. Conclusion: if I missed a section then the city is paying too much and will likely lose money, if my quick read is correct and the feasibility study is correct then we put the Y out of business. I would like to see council put together real numbers and come up with a fair contract)
2. I have been looking for committee agenda items to see how the city planned to look for someone to operate the aquatic center. I've not seen any that occurred in open meetings. I would like council to tell us what other companies or organizations were asked to submit proposals. I would also like to know the positive and negatives of each of the other entities considered.
3. In the contract that was presented on the 16th, there was no guidance as to how the YMCA was to price admissions, nor was there any restrictions on offering discounts or priority to those with Y memberships. Pricing of admissions will be a major task to get right especially since we need a facility that can handle 1322 people but we are only building one that can handle 900 people. Council should make sure in the contract they sign with the YMCA they give them guidance on how to price admissions. There are four ways that come to mind that can be used to cull out the 422 people for which we don't have room:
a. The feasibility study tells us that if we price admission above $8 per person a day less people will want to come. This option will favor those with money but it will also be the one most likely to produce a profit for the city.
b. The YMCA could make membership at the Y a big factor for getting a reasonable price for admission. YMCA membership has very little value to those that make money so this avenue will help eliminate attendance by families that make money. It will also provide a supplement to YMCA funds by boosting membership and probably be the one that will require the most tax dollars.
c. They can take the hodge podge approach. When people get frustrated with the crowds they will start dropping out.
d. They can set up alternatives. Perhaps they will set up more "splash parks" within more of the other parks within the city.
As an aside - in more than one briefing the architects of the aquatic center told council this is the type of project that is meant for city residents and not a destination point.
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