New Carlisle City Council members continue to debate whether to pay to keep the city’s pool open next year.
The budget has been a flash point for the city this year as council members debated cutting the pool or deputies and the city manager resigned.
They unanimously adopted a tentative 2016 tax budget on Monday that projects New Carlisle would end this year with more than $8,000 on hand.
It also projected a general fund budget of $1.3 million next year and estimated the city would close 2016 with $271,000, largely due to budget cuts and voters recently approving a half percent income tax levy for police protection.
Mayor Lowell McGlothin said he was pleased the city finances remain in the black, but had some concerns, particularly with the city ending this year with only $8,000.
“I was surprised that it was as low as it was this year. We were all very surprised. The main thing was Twin Creeks. The ($100,000) payment we had to make to Twin Creeks (subdivision). Hopefully, we can get that resolved here in the near future,” McGlothin said.
But he said the city’s finances appear to be headed in the right direction.
“We’re trying our best to take care of everything and I think we’re doing a pretty good job,” McGlothin said.
New Carlisle City Council in March approved a budget that called for $5.3 million in total spending in 2015.
Council members approved the 2015 budget in a 6-1 vote, one week after former City Manager Kim Jones resigned amid tense public discussions about the budget and cuts.
Officials made more than $123,000 in cuts to the general fund to remain in the black.
Randy Bridge, who was named city manager in April to replace Jones, presented the 2016 tax budget to council members on Monday. That document kicks off the budgeting process and must be filed with the auditor’s office by July 16, Bridge said.
The numbers in the budget will likely change, he said, and are tentative.
Included in the 2016 proposed budget was an allocation of $60,000 for the city pool.
Since 2010, the pool has lost money nearly every year, despite the city transferring $87,000 from the general fund.
Council members voted 5-2 in January to keep the pool open through 2015, giving operators this summer to make changes and turn the tide.
The pool has been busy on warm days, McGlothin said, but the rainy June likely hurt.
“We’ll just have to wait and see what the outcome is by the end of the year and we’ll have to vote on it again in the coming year. If it loses a considerable amount of money again I don’t know how we can contain it at that point,” McGlothin said, noting that a number of municipal pools have closed in recent years.
“We’ll just have to wait and see. I would think if it’s just a few thousand (under $10,000) in the red that might not be too bad,” he said.
Councilman Ethan Reynolds said his primary concern with the 2016 budget was the proposed $60,000 allocation for the pool.
The pool should close, he said, or city leaders should put a levy on the ballot to generate money for it. Reynolds expects the pool will lose money again this year because of the wet summer.
“Are we really going to pour $60,000 into the pool again after we made a promises to the citizens that if it doesn’t make money we’ll close it down? Everyone on council has stated that, even the most ardent pool supporters,” Reynolds said.
New Carlisle Vice Mayor Mike Lowrey said council members need to do more to ensure the success of the pool.
He said he’s spent 40 to 50 hours at the pool this year to alleviate some of its expenses.
It has averaged $1,800 to $2,200 in revenue on the days it has been open, Lowrey said, but the number of rainy days has hurt.
“The days that it’s open, it’s booming and it’s making money. It’s just that these rainy days are killing us,” he said.
Lowrey said $60,000 for the pool is too much, but he said that number would likely change as the 2016 budget numbers are projections. He also wants to see if there are any grants that could help the pool stay open.
“If it was going to stay at ($60,000), yes, I would have a huge issue with it … I’m a big supporter of the pool, but I can’t see doing that,” he said.