New Carlisle City Council approved this week its 2016 budget that calls for more than $5.5 million in spending.
But two of the seven council members — Ethan Reynolds and William Lindsey — voted against it because they said they disagreed with the city’s more than $93,600 appropriation for the pool.
The general fund cannot afford to fund the pool, Reynolds said.
“I’ve been very clear on my stance in regards to funding the pool. I voted against the budget last year when we decided we were going to cut our police force,” he said. “I haven’t found a budget that really had my approval in the last two cycles and it’s because we made a promise and if we don’t hold tight to a simple promise like that, what else won’t we do?”
But other city council members said Reynolds and Lindsey don’t understand the budget.
Councilman Lowell McGlothin said city leaders held two work sessions that explained that the city planned to set aside $50,000 in the general fund to transfer to the pool to cover potential losses.
However, a larger amount was appropriated for the pool in the budget that will be reported to the state in case the city needs additional funds.
“I believe that maybe the two members that voted no just don’t understand how the budget works,” McGlothin said. “When I was mayor I asked for all the council members to get with the finance director to try and go over things because I think there were quite a few that didn’t realize how the budget works.”
The city lost about $5,000 on the pool last year and hopes to break even this year, McGlothin said. It has lost about $76,000 on the pool since 2012.
The pool has been a hot topic in New Carlisle after the city faced financial problems when voters initially rejected a 0.5 police levy. Council members made major budget reductions last year, including cutting bus service and the number of deputies in half. But the pool remained opened, despite losing money for several years.
Voters then approved the police levy in May 2015 and it’s expected to generate more than $472,000, according to the 2016 appropriation budget.
The budget also calls for making more than $87,000 in payments on the defunct Twin Creeks subdivision that the city guaranteed the bond on and spending $8,000 on waste water equipment replacement, according to the budget.
Mayor Mike Lowrey said the city’s finances aren’t in the best shape, but they’re on the right track.
“We’re really moving in the right direction,” Lowrey said.
Lowrey also said he thinks Reynolds and Lindsey didn’t understand the budget and that Reynolds missed the budget work session that explained it.
Lowrey also questioned why Reynolds and Lindsey didn’t raise their concerns about the budget earlier.
Lowrey established a GoFundMe page for the pool and it has raised more than $2,100. Another fundraiser is selling T-shirts on Facebook.
New Carlisle Finance Director Colleen Harris said the more than $93,000 appropriation is the estimated expenditures for the pool and includes wages, utilities, supplies such as chemicals, concessions, repairs and maintenance.
The city spent more than $80,000 on the pool in 2014, she said, more than $94,000 in 2013 and more than $91,000 in 2012.
“It’s basically a good average amount we could spend,” Harris said, referring to the 2016 appropriation.
Harris estimates the pool will generate about $40,000 in revenue as it has in the past few years.
Last year pool memberships brought in $13,000, gate fees about $17,100, concessions more than $10,600, and about $4,700 in miscellaneous revenue, Harris said.
New Carlisle City Manager Randy Bridge also told council members the general fund couldn’t afford to support the pool and worried that a major expense could have a negative impact on the city’s finances.
Reynolds said the city needs to control spending.
“What’s going to happen if something breaks down,” Reynolds said. “I don’t think we should be adding to our debt. We should be paying it down.”
Reynolds also said statements that he doesn’t understand the budget is an insult to his intelligence.
“I understand. It’s the principal of the issue. It’s not the issue that I didn’t understand the budget. The problem is that they lied. They blatantly lied to the people of New Carlisle that we would not open the pool if it lost money. They lied about it. They knew they were never going to keep their promise. They never do. Now they’re trying to pen it on me and Bill. We’re just holding their feet to the fire,” Reynolds said.