New Carlisle to open pool, leaders warn it can’t afford it

New Carlisle City Council members voted this week to keep the municipal pool open for another year, despite warnings that city’s general fund cannot support it.

The pool loses money annually, including about $76,000 since 2012, according to Finance Director Colleen Harris. Still, the city may allocate another $50,000 for the pool in the 2016 budget in anticipation for additional losses.

But city council voted 5-2 to keep the pool open, a year after some vowed to close it if it continued to lose money. Last year when faced with a budget cuts, a majority of council members decided to keep the pool running but trim the number of deputies patrolling New Carlisle in half.

Recent changes have improved operations, said council members who voted in favor of keeping the pool open this year. That resulted in losses dropping from more than $40,000 in 2014 to about $5,300 last year.

Councilman Lowell McGlothin voted to keep the pool open, saying it’s needed for local children and their families and the financial improvements have been significant.

“If we would have lost $30,000 or $40,000 (this year) I would not be in favor of opening it,” McGlothin said. “I personally talked to 30 or 40 or 50 people and the people are saying, ‘What else do our children have to do?’ So consequently, I’m in favor if we keep it to that type of loss, which is less than a $1 per citizen in the city of New Carlisle.”

Mayor Mike Lowrey, Councilmen Rick Lowrey, John Krabacher and Bill McIntire also voted in favor of opening the pool this year. Councilmen Ethan Reynolds and William Lindsey voted against opening it due to budget concerns raised by City Manager Randy Bridge.

Lindsey and Reynolds also voted against giving Service Director Howard Kitko a 1.2 percent raise and Harris a 3.6 percent raise. Both again cited budget concerns.

The general fund isn’t healthy enough to fund the pool this year, Bridge said.

The city only has $169,000 in its general fund, he said, and needs to save money for emergencies as well as upcoming plans to move to Belle Manor nursing home, which is the proposed location of a new city building. The city plans to move its offices there in about a year and a half to two years and only has $10,000 set aside for the move.

Money from the general fund or a loan would be needed to pay for major repairs, he said.

“I understand it is a community thing. You want people to be able to enjoy it and I’m all for that. But the budget is not financially healthy enough to fund that pool given all the unknowns,” Bridge said.

New Carlisle leaders need to make hard choices to save money, Lindsey said.

“At some point we have to say we can’t go no further in the hole,” Lindsey said. “I know that Mike worked his backside off to get it down to losing $5,300. I appreciate that and the community appreciates that. I’m strictly looking at it from a financial standpoint. How much money can this city afford to lose on the pool?”

Reynolds said officials are in a tough bind, but urged those who vowed to close the pool if it lost money last year to vote against opening it this year. He also suggested placing a levy on the ballot to support the pool.

McIntire said the city should consider fundraising initiatives to support the pool, such as selling advertising space around the pool and creating a swim club.

Mike Lowrey, who was among those who played a key role in pool operation changes, said the pool provides a service to the community and provides much needed entertainment for families.

“If it’s moving in the right direction I think it would be silly not to push forward and keep that momentum going. I think it’s a positive thing for the citizens,” Mayor Mike Lowrey said.

Valerie Herdman, a pool manager, said she was pleased council supported opening the pool this year.

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