City Council took another step toward building a new pool by instructing the city attorney to draft language for a ballot question to seek $40 million in general obligation bonds to pay for the project.
City Engineer Jim Keane showed council members three design options for the pool ranging in cost from $16 million to $50 million at their meeting Tuesday, Dec. 11. He said the community-preferred option had program and competition pools, a fitness center, locker rooms, racquetball courts, a meeting room and an outdoor family pool.
Keane said that option is estimated to cost approximately $30 million now, but they are asking for $40 million to allow for inflation. He also said it would cost $650,000 a year in operation and maintenance costs.
It costs $540,000 year to operate and maintain the current pool, according to Parks and Recreation Director Roger Hall.
Finance Director Diane Pelletier said she was recommending general obligation bonds to pay for the new facility because they had the lowest interest rate. She also told council it could do a modified version of that bond.
It would still require the city to obtain voter approval for $40 million, but it would allow for that amount to be combined with other funds, reducing the amount it has to borrow.
Pelletier said an example would be that the city raises $5 million from other sources and then obtains a $35 million bond. She also said the $5 million could be taken from the capital improvement fund without hurting the city.
If the council took out the $40 million bond, the total cost of the project with interest over the 30 years would be $79 million.
“It’s not a $100 million, but it’s still a lot of money,” she said.
“Could it be paid off early?” Councilwoman Peggy Leavitt asked.
Pelletier said that it could be structured that way and the city could work hard to pay it off in less than 30 years. Additionally, even if the $40 million bond was approved, it did not mean the city would have to spend the entire amount.
Property tax increase
Councilman Kiernan McManus said that in order for the bond counsel to approve the request it would need to be backed up by a property tax increase.
Pelletier said they estimated how much more taxes residents would pay if the bond is approved. A home in the Del Prado area, for example, would see an increase of approximately $182.93 a year, she said.
McManus said the city’s revenues from taxes and solar leases were approximately $34 million, which is less than the project.
“This is not a small amount of money,” he said.
McManus said residents need to put pool facilities in the Las Vegas and Henderson area in the proper perspective when comparing it to Boulder City’s needs.
“Those are supported by many multiples of residents, more than Boulder City has,” he said.
“I think if we move forward on this, there will have to be a great education effort with the community partners,” said Councilman Warren Harhay.
He also said he’d like to see the costs come down by seeing what parts of the project could be removed or repurposed from the current facility.
“The pool is the number one objective,” he said.
Councilman Rich Shuman was concerned about the integrity of Broadbent Park and wanted to see some plans and ideas for what it would look like with the new facility.
Immediate action required
City Clerk Lou Krumm told council members that in order for the question about issuing the $40 million bond to be on the June 11 ballot they would have to approve a motion that night instructing the city attorney to draft it. The question would need to go to the city’s bond counsel in February.
“We already have consensus right now of what the community wants,” said Mayor Rod Woodbury. “My personal opinion is we need to go forward with this. … We need to hear from the voters if it’s really important to them. We won’t know unless we do it.”
Residents were concerned with the scope and cost of the new pool.
“I think it’s early to ask the people to spend $40 million,” said Ray Turner.
Resident Judy Dechaine said she would not vote for the bond without more information about what could be removed from the project to save money.
Nate Lasoff suggested the city sell Cascata with deed restrictions that the property could only be used for a golf course.
“That could help offset some of it,” he said of the cost.
Resident Barbara Polk questioned why there were outdoor and indoor pools because she did know why the city needed both.
I agree we need to get it on the ballot. … We need to get it done,” she said.
Council’s instructions to City Attorney Steve Morris about the ballot question requested he include language to spend up to $5 million from the capital improvement fund to offset the cost. Additionally, council members requested staff bring information to them in January about a breakdown of costs and site plan for Broadbent Park.
Contact reporter Celia Shortt Goodyear at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 702-586-9401. Follow her on Twitter @csgoodyear.
By the numbers
Aquatic center survey results
375 people surveyed
73 percent preferred a new facility
85 percent thought it was important for the city to research a new pool
46 percent said they or someone in their house would definitely use the new pool
62 percent would support new debt to pay for it
37 percent would support raising property taxes to pay for it