Seeking sustainability, Maxwell Park and Recs considering options to balance budget

The Maxwell Town Pool reopened last year after being shuttered for a decade. It will reopen again this summer, but there are no guarantees beyond that.

The Maxwell Park and Recreations District, which runs the pool, will need to operate under a significant budget deficit in order to keep the pool moving forward. While they do have a chunk of money stashed away, it won’t last long if they are running a $5,000 deficit.

“Looking at the costs from last year, we have a good idea of what it’s going to cost us to run going forward. It’s going to cost us roughly $17,000 to run,” Maxwell Park and Recs board member Kyle Miller said. “And that doesn’t include major repairs, if they are necessary.”

The cost of getting the pool back up and running this year was $44,613. Through donations and fundraising activities, Maxwell Park and Recs received significant help from the community in covering those expenses, many of which were one-time costs.

The bulk of next year’s bill — about $13,500 — will go to cover the cost of labor (lifeguards) and of PG&E. The board anticipates spending an additional $2,400 on chemicals, and $1,000 for lifeguard training, safety equipment and training/medical supplies for lifeguards.

According to Miller, who is the treasurer for the district, Maxwell Park and Recs received just north of $13,000 last year from assessment taxes — some $5,000 short of the anticipated operating cost of the pool next year.

While the pool is the district’s biggest financial responsibility, it’s not the only thing they are in charge of — and they’re actively trying to offer more to district residents.

In order to operate the pool, maintain current programs and events, and develop new ones in the long-term, Miller anticipates the district would need an additional $7,000 and $8,000 annually. If they were to match their totals from last year, the would fall just shy of $7,000.

“With our fundraisers, donations, and revenue from the pool, we were able to raise $6,887 last year. But we can’t be reliant on fundraisers all the time,” Miller said.

At their meeting last month, the Maxwell Park and Recreations board discussed another alternative: Potentially doubling the current assessment for district residents.

“In addition to maintaining the pool, part of the reason we want to raise the assessment is to continue to do other activities, such as movie nights, the upcoming Easter Egg hunt, and Maxwell Country Christmas,” Miller said.

If the board decides to move in that direction, it would mark the first increase to the $15-per-residence, $0.07-per-acre, and $3-minimum assessment since it was first passed by voters in November 1985.

For the special assessment levy to go up, it will again go before district voters, who must pass it by a two-thirds vote.

Getting 66 percent of Maxwell to vote in favor of a tax increase may not be easy, but for Miller and fellow board member Randy Wilkins, bringing an assessment increase before the voters is inescapable.

“I think it’s inevitable,” Wilkins said. “It’s more a matter of when it’s going to happen.”

“We’re going to have to raise it. For the pool to be open in the long term, we are going to have to raise assessment taxes,” Miller said.

In the meantime, Miller and Wilkins said that the board would welcome the community’s input. Their next meeting is on Feb. 10 at 7 PM, at the American Legion Hall.

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Brian Pearson is the Managing Editor & Reporter for the Williams Pioneer Review. Brian joined the Williams Pioneer Review in June 2016 and is committed to bringing hyperlocal news to its readers. A few of his projects include reporting on local government and the newly feature sports page. To contact Brian about this article, or for future articles, please email him at brian@colusacountynews.net