Council considers Waterpark rates

By Sheryl Roadcap -

SIDNEY — A review of potential rate changes for the Sidney Water Park was given to Sidney City Council Monday night.

Sidney Parks and Recreation Director Duane Gaier presented council with information about fees and goals associated with the Water Park for 2020.

Gaier said the city’s goal is to recover 40 percent of the park’s operating costs. The income tax subsidy will cover the remaining 60 percent of operating costs and 100 percent of capital costs. Taking into consideration the decline in attendance since 2009, budgeted revenue for 2020 will cover approximately 31.2% of the budgeted expenditures.

City staff recommended increasing the 2020 daily admission for preschool children to $4.50 from $4, as well as increasing the individual-only season pass to $35 from $34.

The daily admission fee for adults, seniors and youth will remain at $4.50. Training rentals would remain at $15 per hour per guard required. Also, Gaier said the two-hour pool rental would remain at $300, which would cover staffing costs up to $287. Replacement photo season passes will also remain at $15. All active military personnel on leave who show proper identification would continue to be admitted for free.

No changes were recommended to the Water Park’s hours/lap swim option, Gaier said. During the summer season, the pool is open:

• Monday through Thursday open 1:30 to 7:30 p.m.

— Lap swim is 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the south end of large pool in the area where lanes are roped-off.

— The remaining pool(s) will be open for family swim.

— Pool rental is not available on these four days.

• Friday and Saturday open 1 to 7 p.m.

— No lap swim.

— Pool rental is available 7 to 9 p.m.

• Sunday open 1 to 6:30 p.m.

— No lap swim.

— Pool rental is available 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Budgeted ticket admissions and pool party revenue for 2020 is $66,930. Gaier said this is roughly 14.5% higher than 2019’s actual revenue of $58,449, excluding donations for swim lessons and general fund subsidy. Donations for pool lessons are budgeted at $6,000 to cover the expected overtime costs. Donations received for 2019 totaled $1,500 but were returned due to the lifeguard shortage situation at the pool last year.

In response to the lifeguard shortage, he said, the city of Sidney has entered into an agreement with the Sidney-Shelby County YMCA to offer lifeguard certification at no cost to the employee. The training fee will be paid by the city as long as the candidate agrees to work for the city, meeting minimum number of hours worked and a specific number of special events, if offered. Lifeguard classes are being offered in March and April, of this year. The first five-day class is on March 25.

A brief discussion ensued about the city’s difficulty attracting lifeguards to the Sidney pool, which is an area-wide problem. Council member Darryl Thurber asked about the rate of pay, to which Gaier said they will be starting lifeguards out at the step 2 rate of $9 per hour.

Mayor Mike Barhorst asked if Indian Lake has the same issue getting guards to work there? Gaier said no. Indian Lake is known to pay guards at least $10 per hour. Barhorst noted most young people can find a job making more than $9 per hour, and implied maybe the pay could be Sidney’s problem.

Council member Steve Wagner ask why Sidney is not paying more. Gaier and City Manager Mark Cundiff both said they hope with the city paying for the lifeguard classes and raising the starting pay, it would be incentive to draw-in applicants.

A resolution on the Water Park rates will be introduced at the March 9 meeting.

In other business, according to City Clerk Kari Egbert, Barhorst had several questions or suggestions for Cundiff. He strongly urged Cundiff to have Freytag & Associates provide the information necessary for the creation of a marketing brochure as well as floor plans for the Ohio Building. Barhorst felt this information would be extremely beneficial when talking with prospective developers.

Barhorst also questioned a past due utility bill for a property owned by Sunrise Hospitality. Cundiff said the outstanding charges were mainly EPA inflow and infiltration (I&I) program, stormwater capital and stormwater operating fees, as well as late fees. Cundiff shared the erratic payments received since January 2018. He noted city staff does have the ability to waive the late fees and will be investigating potential reductions in stormwater and I&I fees for the period after the former Days Inn was demolished.

According to Egbert, Barhorst shared concerns he received from several residents regarding the city’s enforcement of the sign code. Cundiff noted Sidney has been without a Code Enforcement Officer since January and existing staff has been doing double-duty, so enforcement may have been slightly more lax, but he ensured improper signage was being removed from the right-of-way, as staffing permits.

Barhorst continued by sharing concerns he received about violations at 125 W. Court St., 328 S. Wilkinson Ave., and 113 S. Walnut Ave.. Barhorst felt there had been no appreciable change at any of these locations. Cundiff reported the permits issued for 125 W. Court St. were still valid, though time was running out for completion of the work. Staff has been in contact with the property owners and notified them of the time limits. As for 328 S. Wilkinson St., the property owner has received 10 junk vehicle violations over a five year period, but each time a notice is issued, the property owner brings the property into compliance. Finally, a case file is being developed for 113 S. Walnut Ave. and will be presented to Law Director Jeffery Amick for legal action.

Amick shared information on the work being done by city staff and the Sidney-Shelby County Health Department to combat nuisance properties. He said there is only so much the city can do without property owner cooperation, and even then sometimes the property owner habitually repeats the offending behaviors. Council member Jenny VanMatre added, as the liaison to the Health Board, she is aware of the work they are doing to change rules to combat the issue.

The last item Barhorst brought forth, Egbert said, was the possible expansion of City Tree Board membership from five members to seven, along with several reasons for the proposed expansion. Several members expressed interest in considering legislation to change the City Tree Board membership from five, to five, but no more than seven members

Council member Steven Klingler was absent Monday and was excuse by City Council from the meeting.

By Sheryl Roadcap

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.