Council considers increase in pool fees

By Sheryl Roadcap -

SIDNEY — A review of Sidney Waterpark rates and grant opportunities for implementing clean fuel programs were topics of consideration for Sidney City Council during Monday evening’s workshop session.

Sidney Parks and Recreation Director Duane Gaier presented council with information about fees and goals associated with Sidney Waterpark for 2017.

Gaier said to recover the minimum 60 percent goal of operating costs, in light of declining park attendance (since 2009), he recommended raising pass and rental fees. He said the income tax subsidy will cover the remaining 40 percent of operating costs and 100 percent of capital costs. However, approximately 44 percent of 2017 budgeted expenditures would be covered by 2017 budgeted revenue, so fee increases are necessary.

Gaier suggested increasing the 2017 individual-only season pass to $32 from $30. The individual-only pass was implemented when family and season passes by age were eliminated in 2015. He also recommend raising the daily admission fee for adults, seniors and youth to $4.25 from $4; the daily admission for preschool children to $3 from $2.50; and the two-hour pool rental to $300 from $250, which would cover staffing costs up to $296.

Training rentals would remain at $15 per hour per guard required. Replacement photo season passes would remain at $10. All active military personnel on leave who show proper identification would be admitted for free.

Gaier told council the waterpark manager and assistant manager are leaving at the end of this season. He said they plan to implement a training program for the new managers for the 2018 season that will work within the current budget.

Clean Fuels Ohio Program representative Steve Campbell and Policy Director Jason Phillips presented council with information about opportunities for Sidney to participate in their clean fuel alternative programs.

Campbell said Clean Fuels Ohio is a statewide, nonprofit organization that promotes public and private partnerships on alternative fuels. It provides basic resources, information and help with grant writing.

Phillips said the consulting service is dedicated to improving Ohio’s economy, environment and energy security by educating fleets in how to deploy cost-effective sustainable fuels, technologies and planning solutions; leverage funding by obtaining Department of Energy (DOE), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and local government innovation grants, loans, and scholarships; and improving air quality and energy security.

Grants are available up to $50,ooo per feasibility study through the Local Government Innovation Fund. The feasibilty study is the first step to determining how to convert to clean fuel. Phillips said they present information and encourage fleets or municipalities to apply for grant funds early in the year to reduce competiton. He said there are four rounds of funding and the later in the year that applications are submitted, the greater amount of competition and greater chance to be “shut out” of funding.

Phillips said there is a three- to five-year time period before money is made back from a significant initial investment; however, there are numerous grant opportunites to deploy and replace vehicles and build refuling locations. He said recently Clean Fuels Ohio helped entities obtain more than $12 million in DOE grant awards, $2.5 million in EPA awards and $11.7 million in state grant awards.

Council showed interest in the presentation and plans to learn more and to discuss it further.

By Sheryl Roadcap

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.