Winamac Council, Park Board Consider Pool Funding Options

Rendering of rebuilt Winamac pool.

Winamac Park Board members got several of their questions about the swimming pool rebuilding project answered Monday. They met with the town council for a joint work session.

Chris Schramm and other park board members have been worried about what might happen if the park board’s budget wouldn’t be able to cover the pool’s operating expenses once its built. Council member and project organizer Judy Heater again told park board members that the town’s $40,000 Recreation Fund covered the cost of running the old pool for decades and would also cover the new pool. “We budgeted $40,000,” she explained. “We never used $40,000. And most years, we bought our chemicals on sale at the end of the season for the next season and still had money left over.” On top of that, she said the fact that the pool will have brand new equipment and use less water should reduce the cost of operating it.

But Clerk-Treasurer Melanie Berger pointed out that’s just because that money’s in the budget doesn’t mean there will be enough tax revenue every year to keep it fully funded. “You have to figure out how to take x amount of dollars and split it between all of your tax funds,” she said. “That doesn’t mean every year, you’re going to get $40,000 in Recreation, $140,000 in Park, $70,000 or whatever it is in Motor Vehicle, and then the rest of it goes to General Fund. You need to figure out how you’re going to spread your money out amongst all of these funds, creating a balanced budget for each fund you have.”

Council members were confident the town would be able to find a way to cover unexpected expenses that may arise, even if that means looking outside the Park and Recreation funds.

Berger suggested that the park board put together a sample budget for the proposed pool, taking all expenses into consideration. That will require members to make some decisions on how the pool will operate, such as whether there will be a pool manager, how many lifeguards will be needed, and how much they’ll all get paid. They’ll also have to consider whether to raise the cost of admission, to offset some of the cost. Since Winamac tax revenues would help pay for the pool, charging out-of-town residents a higher rate is a possibility.

However, getting the pool built in the first place may require a bit of a fund-raising push from the Winamac Pool Committee. The Winamac Park Board is eligible to apply for grants from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. But the maximum grant amount is only $200,000, rather than $300,000, as organizers originally thought. Park board members plan to meet with DNR officials next week to discuss ways to maximize the town’s chances of getting grant funding.