The Turlock City Council considered authorizing the suspension of Recreational Swim at Turlock High School and Pitman High School for fiscal year 2010-11, in order to reduce the current programming deficit, realizing an estimated savings of $18,000 in direct part-time staff costs.
The City Council Packet information stated that in balancing Council expectations with the needs of the community and the cost of programming at each of the aquatic sites, staff determined that eliminating recreational swim at Turlock High School and Pitman High School will allow for a direct savings to the general fund with limited impacts on revenue. The savings will be realized through a reduction in the number of part time lifeguards needed for recreational swim activities at those locations.
City staff did not consider the closure of the complete aquatics program at Pitman High School based on the fact that swim lessons at Pitman generate ample revenue to cover both the direct and indirect costs, as well as surplus revenue to help alleviate the overall Recreation operating deficit.
“I have great concerns with this and I don’t support closing the two pools at all,” said Councilwoman Mary Jackson. “For $18,000 we are going to put our community at risk, and our children and families at risk.”
Councilwoman Jackson said “My concerns would be if the kids don’t have a place to swim they’re going to go find some where else to swim, and my concern is a canal.”
Councilwoman Jackson suggested the City allow the community to financially contribute toward the cause of keeping the two other pools open. Jackson said that it would be difficult to raise money in a month but that it could be raised throughout the year.
“I think it’s very difficult to ask someone to raise money in this economy in a month to keep the pools open,” said Jackson. “But I believe that working with some of the service groups, as well as some other government entities, I think we could raise the money to keep them open.”
Councilman Ted Howze stated “The reality is the City of Turlock owns one pool, we own Columbia Pool.”
“Not only should we close recreation swim at Turlock High and Pitman, but in future years we should close swim lessons at Turlock High and Pitman. We should force everybody to the one pool that the City of Turlock owns, even if some people ‘won’t go over there’ because we will cover more of our direct and indirect cost,” said Councilman Howze.
Howze went on to say that if citizens want to use school pools, the people should ask the School District to open their facilities or that people should volunteer at those facilities. Councilman Howze said that the Recreation report that shows that the total cost to the City was disingenuous because it did not include all the unemployment costs of all the part-timers used for the aquatics programs.
Turlock Parks and Recreation Interim Manager Alison Van Guilder confirmed that unemployment costs for all the part-time staff for the aquatics programs were not included in their total costs.
Recreation Superintendent Juliene Flanders pointed out that if recreation swim programs were cut at the two school facilities, that the number of employees would not be reduced but just the employee’s hours.
Councilman Howze also went on to say that Recreation’s cost recovery number of 89% is across the board, but that the aquatics program loses the most money.
“Swim is the biggest loser of the entire Recreation budget,” said Councilman Howze.
“And here is the bigger issue; since when did government become babysitters for people’s kids?” asked Councilman Howze. “I think we’re making excuses for not getting control of our budget.”
Councilwoman Mary Jackson strongly disagreed with Councilman Howze by saying “Frankly Councilman Howze, the biggest part of our problem is salary and benefits. We all know that and that’s what needs to be addressed. I plan to address that next year when our labor side agreements are gone.”
Councilwoman Amy Bublak wanted to note that she is a huge advocate of recreation programs and if it wasn’t for recreation and sports that she wouldn’t be who she is today. Councilwoman Bublak went on to say that while she supports recreation swim and swim lessons, but that Columbia Pool is the only pool the City is responsible for and that maybe the schools that own their pools can help out the community also.
“I encourage everyone to work with the pool we have and encourage them to go to the schools ask them to out them out, but we’re going to focus on Columbia… At least I am,” said Councilwoman Bublak.
Mayor John Lazar considered another City Staff option and wanted to keep another pool open if it was viable.
“I am concerned about keeping another pool open on the eastside, I don’t think we can afford to keep Pitman open as well.”
The Turlock City Council voted 4-0 (Councilman Kurt Spycher was absent) to defer action on this issue until the next Council Meeting in two weeks.
This will give the community until June 21st to rally public support to save recreation swim sessions at Turlock High School and Pitman High School.
Pitman High School saw 1,900 kids come to recreation swim sessions, Turlock High School saw 2,200 recreation swimmers, and Columbia Pool had 7,000 recreation swimmers last year.
Pitman and Turlock High School pools were opened for recreation swim Monday through Friday for 2.5 hours a day. Columbia Pool was open longer hours and weekends.
If anyone in the community is interested in contributing to keeping recreation swim sessions going at Pitman and Turlock High School, contact the Turlock City Recreation Division at 209-668-5594.