City Council votes on utility agreement for pool facility
SNOHOMISH - The City Council was scheduled to vote this week on an agreement to help pay Snohomish School District’s water and sewer bill for the district’s planned aquatic center.
The proposed agreement has the city covering the aquatic center’s utility bill and in return the facility must be built inside city limits and be available for public use.
The agreement estimates the cost for the first year at $92,200, which would be in 2013, the earliest possible date the facility could open. The cost will go up in future years as utility rates are scheduled to increase.
The City Council voted on the agreement Monday, Jan. 23. The council’s Jan. 17 meeting was canceled due to the snow.
The money will not change hands between the city and the school district; the city will move the money from the general fund into the utility fund.
The city had essentially the same agreement with the district’s former Hal Moe Pool for 40 years, city officials said.
“It’s a partnership and mutual investment for the benefit of the Snohomish community,” Councilman Greg Guedel said last week.
As water and sewer rates increase in the future, the city’s financial commitment to support the pool facility will increase as well. In 2023, the city’s projected contribution is $151,800. In 2033, it is $214,200 and in 2043, it is $302,200.
The agreement is for 30 years, the projected life of the facility.
City and school district officials have met several times to form the draft agreement.
The district still has to pay utility connection fees. It is unknown how much those will be until the pool’s design is finished, City Manager Larry Bauman said.
In addition to having a new recreational resource in the city, the construction of the pool will produce an infusion of cash for the city, Guedel said.
“The construction of the aquatic center will provide the city with over $1 million in fees and construction sales taxes before a single gallon of water is put into the pool,” he said, “and over the long term the aquatic center will generate significant new traffic for local businesses.”
The aquatic center is planned for construction at the Maple Avenue Campus at 601 Glen Avenue, formerly the Freshman Campus.
When a financial analysis last year showed operational costs could exceed revenues by $450,000 to $550,000, the district put the project on hold and briefly considered building the pool on county land to avoid higher city utility rates as one of many other ideas to either bring the cost down or raise revenue.
District Superintendent Bill Mester told the Tribune earlier this month that the district hasn’t looked at sites outside city limits and continues to plan for construction at the Maple Avenue Campus.
The aquatic center was part of a 2008 package of capital projects that sold Snohomish voters on a $268 million bond. The project was supposed to break ground last summer and is now on track to begin construction this summer.
The district is beginning work on a more detailed design plan.
Recent changes to the design include moving the facility from the back to the front of the Maple Avenue Campus. Architects believe this will save the district money on construction and operational costs because the front of the campus is on level ground, eliminating the need to build a basement to store mechanical systems.
By STEPHANIE KOSONEN
Published Jan. 25, 2012