During a work session on Jan. 21, Superintendent of Parks and Recreation Brian Gray submitted proposed recreation fees and charges for 2021-22, including a possible 30% increase in fees for municipal pool passes. He said an increase may be necessary to cope with declining pool pass sales, an increase in the state’s minimum wage and expenses for unanticipated infrastructure repairs.
According to Gray, the pool complex had to use approximately $372,000 in fund balance to fix broken pipes and a pump valve malfunction. The year-end fund balance is now at approximately $130,000.
After postponing a resolution to confirm the recreation fees, trustees met again on Jan. 28 to discuss the recreation department’s budget and proposed fee changes and lowered the pool permits’ increase to 12.5% (see chart). The trustees also decided to open up 100 nonresident family permits at twice the family permit fee.
An increase in residential pool permits reportedly contributed to the downward trend in the sale of municipal pool memberships and guest passes.
“Over the past three years the village has issued 101 pool construction permits for residents, 54 of which were issued in 2020 alone,” said Gray.
Of the 101 households that received permits to construct a pool, 30 had previously purchased a membership to the Scarsdale municipal pool complex prior to 2020. In 2020 only three of those also purchased memberships for the municipal pool.
“Our concern is residential construction permits will continue to trend upward and in turn pool memberships will continue to decline,” said Gray.
Pappalardo said the village was “at a crossroads” with the pool complex and recommended conducting a market analysis to find out how the community wants to use the complex.
“I just think it’s a wonderful facility and I can’t imagine that the community, if faced with losing it, will allow that to happen,” he said.
Trustee Randy Whitestone said he appreciated Gray’s point about the decrease in available fund balance, but that the pool complex needed to find a way to reverse the long-term trend of decreasing permits.
“When you have a declining use of a business you don’t raise prices,” Whitestone said.
Trustee Jonathan Lewis said the village needed a “complete sensitivity analysis” for the pool complex.
“There’s no soft answer to this one. If we don’t budget a level of fees that covers the cost of the pool, we will have a liability that the village has to make whole and that will cost taxpayers money,” Lewis said.
Though the trustees voted to keep single-use pool permit fees steady and to increase guest fees from $12 to $14, they did not approve outright all of the recreation fees, including pool permits. Mayor Marc Samwick said the board was requesting additional information, including pool usage history, a sensitivity analysis and comparisons to other community pool complexes.
Gray presented further information on the cost structures for nearby municipal pool complexes and the number of pool permits purchased per year at a Jan. 28 work session.
In 2020 the rec department saw a significant decrease in pool permits issued: a 36% decrease in family permits, a 53% decrease in individual permits, a 44% decrease in weekday family permits, a 50% decrease in weekday individual permits and an 83% decrease in single use permits.
Generally, pool permit purchases have been steadily decreasing since 2011.
In order for the pool complex to achieve a balanced budget, the recreation department would need to generate $933,461 in permit sales revenue.
Gray also presented four potential pool permit pricing structures with a 5%, 10%, 15% and 20% increase in fees.
Trustees approved the remaining parks and recreation fees and will officially vote on a resolution to confirm the fees in an upcoming board meeting.