Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Vote to send the pool structure to referendum

Tonight the Council voted to send the $7,068,000 pool enclosure to referendum. My previous count was fairly accurate. But now you can count Ecke and Ruocco as supporting the occurence of a referendum with the vote passing 7 to 1 (Adinolfi opposed, Falvey absent).

There was a lot of talk about saving money, but ultimately it'll still cost more money than a summer-only facility IMO.

If you saw my comments tonight, I apologize for any confusion I created. I think I failed to properly articulate my question about the structure's ROI. I'll watch the video, but I think I was vague. I had long ago decided the bubble was no longer an option. So when I asked about the "payback" on the structure, the answer I got was 8 to 9 years. BUT that was juxtaposing the structure with the bubble.

My bad. I should have been more clear in framing the structure against a summer-only facility.

I simply don't accept the numbers put forth by the Administration. Keep in mind that aside from the whole pool discussion, I've been very open about my opinion that the Administration is highly political - not objective - and is known to advocate more taxes. This Administration is comfortable passively pushing its own political agenda.

So I disregard those summer-only pool subsidy numbers. Instead, I see two options:

1) the more expensive year-round pool with structure; or
2) the less expensive summer-only pool with no bubble.


And since no articles are posted online yet, please add links when they're available tomorrow. Also, since I've had people tell me they want to vote on the pool - both in favor and against - I wanted to send it to referendum. But I'm not planning on supporting this in the ballot box.

Tim White

39 comments:

Anonymous said...

As usual, the TC pushes its own agenda without any regard to what the public wants.

I have said this before, and I will say it again...

Where are the numbers for users and memberships of the current pool?

Anonymous said...

No matter which way this vote turns out, our leadership can wash their hands of this albatross. Soon enough, they will be able to put all blame on the public.

Anonymous said...

this is not an albatross to the 500 kids who get swimming lessons, the swim teams who are a source of national pride (and who learn to perservere mentally and physically), the people of all ages who keep fit (hey aren't we all getting fatter???)
The problem is we tried to do it cheap last time..this will get it right.

Anonymous said...

"...The problem is we tried to do it cheap last time..this will get it right...."

Get a life! The first failed effort had an initial cost of millions. Any time anyone hands over millions for something it isn't being done cheap. The same town government that brought the existing pool and all its flaws to life may now get the go ahead to fix its first mess by spending roughly 4 or 5 times what it spent the first time.

Taxes would go up, few residents - -like about 1 or 2 per cent - - will use it, energy costs will sky rocket and like many government projects the next one probably will wind up working just as well as the last one. Vote NO.

Anonymous said...

It amazes me that we can't get the numbers on the pool. I agree with 7:43.
I have been mentioning it and no one seems to have them. All they can tell us is how many people walk in the door each day. Is an audit ever done on the pool? Non-members have to pay everytime they come through. How hard is it to get that figure? How hard is it to get how many town residents are members?
Just because I don't use the pool doesn't neccessarily mean a good amount of resdidents don't. How am I suppoes to make an educated vote without knowing if a good number of people use it or not.

Who is responsible for keeping these numbers and why aren't they made public?

Are they afraid to show that only 10% to 15% of the town uses it?

Tim can you get us some answers here before the referendum?

Don't you think it is important to know how much of this town actually uses this pool?

I am already getting the emails from different groups asking us to support the pool, I will "only cost us $11 a year". I heard all of that before.

Anonymous said...

We cannot afford this, plain & simple

Anonymous said...

Do you want a year round swimming facility in Cheshire or not? That is the issue. If you don't think a community like Cheshire should have such a facility vote no.
But if you think there is a benefit to people of all ages.....and all reasons like health, learn to swim, just plain recreation.....then vote yes since this is the best option to fix the bubble.
There has been so much negative publicity about the pool (some valid some not)that it is sometimes hard to see that this is a municipal facility that does get a lot of use and can get even more users if properly fixed.
In the overall scheme of things the operation of the pool is not that expensive....less than the Senior Center and with the energy improvements it will be WAY LESS then the Senior Center. We run what amounts to private limo service for the seniors, why not have a place for people to swim?
What's the difference....its just another municipal service.
Summer only means June July and August. Yes you would get revenue but you still have to keep the water clean and heat the building the other nine months of the year. You have to winterize the facility and having the pool deck exposed to ice and snow will only drive up other maintenance costs over the long term. The difference between summer only and full year can't be more than $150,000 or so. I don't think that is a way to go when you think about losing the facility for the other 9 months of the year with all the existing users displaced.

Anonymous said...

Tim I am a responsible voter. However,I am unable to make a fiscally responsible decision as to whether taxpayers should spend millions of dollars to build a permanent structure without knowing the actual percentage of the townsfolk who use it. Not disclosing these figures is only making residents feel like the Council is trying to foist an expensive project on the residents. It's always best to be upfront about ALL the details of any project, especially if it is going to cost taxpayers seven million dollars. Additionally, it would be helpful to know if there is a seasonal difference in its usage. For instance, do more residents use it during the summer months? If the latter is true, then it makes a lot more sense to have a summer-only pool as is the case with many other communities.

Anonymous said...

"this is a municipal facility that does get a lot of use"

Let's be more factual. Show us the numbers, please.


"can get even more users if properly fixed"

Maybe this should be on the ballot? Will more people use it if it has a better cover?


"The difference between summer only and full year can't be more than $150,000 or so."

Again, let's be more factual. Show us the numbers, please.

Anonymous said...

11:34
Thanks for interjecting some reason into this.

I want my family to be able to make an educated vote on this. These numbers need to be released or the TC is just wasting $10000 or more to hold a vote that will likely fail.

Anonymous said...

Making an educated vote on a town pool is a great idea. How about starting with questioning why a town should even supply a pool for use by a few town residents in the first place. It's a nice to have thing for someone who wants to swim in January indoors but doesn't want to spend much of their own money doing that.

Why stop at a town pool? How about we put in a stock car race track and a drag strip too? Surely at least a few of us would use those facilities as well. In this time of great national financial turmoil it's time for government to back off and get out of all but essential services. Vote NO for further pool expenditures.

Anonymous said...

IF you want your property taxes to DOUBLE in 8-10 years (taxes, not value) then vote for the pool. Plain & Simple. In the '60's growing up in Cheshire, we used Mixville

Anonymous said...

The town Council has made a decision to bring a permenant pool enclosure to the public based on the costs associated with the bubble. I support the Openaire structure as it offers operational savings over what we have now and by year 8 or 9 these operational savings exceed the finance costs of the new building.

The town council has been working for the last two years to arrive at a viable alternative to the bubble. The public building commission has never vetted the lifecycle cost of any town building in the manner the openaire structure has been scrutinized. If you want numbers they are there to be seen, nothing hidden or sugercoated. If this option fails at referendum I for one will never blame the voter for making the wrong choice. Where will that get any right thinking adult?

This council is not filling in the pool if the referendum fails either. What you can be certain of is that when the bubble does need to be replaced whether in a planned for replacement or reacting to some emergency failure during a high wind or heavy snow storm (for safty purposes there is emergency support structure inside the bubble enclosure)the matter will come before the public once again.

It is imprudent to wait for that time. Prices are lower now, our debt service is manageable compared to years past (13% down to about 10%)and we will be faced with repalcing the bubble soon anyway.

The cost of the pool currently is the "subsidy" you all have heard about. This was $359K this year. This is the shortfall between revenue and the operational cost of the pool facility. The Library and budget for the Senior centers are higher and those are valuable town run, taxpayer suppported structures utilized by "some" Cheshire residents but not all.

Tim White has offererd a rather oblique explanation for rejecting the improved enclosure in the voters booth as far as I'm concerned as has been an advocate for reducing waste in the operation of the pool and he has worked to bring a solution to the fore.

The pool is a town asset we are utilizing and still paying for. Filling it in is nonsence and turning it into a seasonal facility eliminates the Y as a paying user of the pool. It also forces our swim teams to find facilities elswhere, a cost to the town as an operational line item in the BOE budget.

Please consider your support from this perspective. Over the short run we will recognize operational savings and produce a community pool facility that exceeds the public's expectations. Over the longterm the mistake of the bubble will have lost its grip on so us.

Tim Slocum
Town Councilman at-large

Anonymous said...

Tim, the feedback is appreciated. It is nice to know that you are visitor to Tim's blog. There are some questions that need answering still.


"If you want numbers they are there to be seen, nothing hidden or sugercoated."

Are the numbers of users/members of the current pool in this report? If not, why not? If so, can you tell us what they are?


"The Library and budget for the Senior centers are higher and those are valuable town run, taxpayer suppported structures utilized by "some" Cheshire residents but not all."

I think that most people understand this, but the issue is that the library is free to use. I can't speak for the senior center, but assume it is free too?

Anonymous said...

Anon. 5-26 3PM

The library is indeed free to users but not free to taxpayers. Like the senior center it is a detailed line item in the operating budget. Some fees are collected but never enough to really offset a fraction of basic operating costs.

The pool was established on a premise there would be a fee structure to offset costs to reduce the impact on the operating budgets. The failure in the calculous was a total misunderstanding of the energy costs associated with the bubble.

I regret that I am unable to answer your question on the actual number of users now but I will try to get this info posted here.

Clearly the town knows the revenue received but we sell day passes and family memberships so breaking down the number to a hard fact will involve some guess. The Y pays a considerable sum. Swim lessons are paid for.

The bottom line is that users generate the revenue and it is insufficient to cover the full cost so taxpayers share in the balancing act. It is conceivable, although I must be cautious on this one, that there could be an increase in users with this new facility. The subcommittee spoke to this outcome based on the simple change in operating hours from 12 months of operations vs. the current 11 months we have now based on the twice annual closure to allow for the transition of the bubble (Up in the fall / down in the summer)

Tim Slocum

Anonymous said...

7:43 (top poster) said:
"As usual, the TC pushes its own agenda without any regard to what the public wants.'

What are you talking about? They're sending it to the voters to decide.

Tony Perugini said...

I thought that the presentation given last night was very well done. I expected a dog and pony show by the vendor but was pleasantly surprised to see actual facts (whether you believe them or not) about this project.

The pool committee obviously did a great deal of work and research along with the PBC to arrive at this solution. Very well done and I do support the enclosure. It was refreshing to see an actual lifecycle cost model for this effort.

All too often I think we get caught up in the here and now, immediate gratification without considering the true costs over the liftime of a project such as this.

I saw a lot of facts being presented which I think (no sarcasm here) surprised many in attendance. I think what people also didn't expect was the "hands off" approach the TC took during the presentation. They allowed the pool committee, PBC, vendors and others deeply involved in this speak about the project. I didn't see this as a sell by the TC, it was quite the contrary.

There was one item that was not planned for and that's the impact that closing the pool for construction will have on the swim teams and BOE budget. The BOE will need to find other facilities to use while the enclosure is being built which means transporting the swims to several different facilities. It seems that the costs of this wasn't figured into the plan. I don't know if the $35K budgeted for the "pool fee" i.e. "pool revenue booster" is sufficient to cover this especially due to the transportation expenses. I invite the TC to work with the BOE to work through this. I'm certain once this passes referendum we'll have some costs on this. As I understand it, the Academy can't accomodate us. I suspect the additional costs are not going to be extraordinary and the savings generated from the pool being closed could help offset this expense. We'll cross that bridge when we get to it.

Glad to see that the support for the referendum crossed party lines.

Thanks,
Tony Perugini

Tony Perugini said...

"I simply don't accept the numbers put forth by the Administration"

Tim, did I hear you correctly last night when you stated the the TM's costs for the summer-only/seasonal pool option included 2 FTE life guards/instructors or something along those lines?

- Tony P

Tim White said...

support the Openaire structure as it offers operational savings over what we have now and by year 8 or 9 these operational savings exceed the finance costs of the new building.

Only when compared against the bubble... not when compared against a summer-only facility.

Only in the dream world of Government can 12 months of service cost less than 3 months of service.

Tim White said...

If you want numbers they are there to be seen, nothing hidden or sugercoated.

I disagree. For the Council to accept the TMs assertion that a summer-only facility must have year-round employees is to overstate costs and to "sugarcoat" the opportunity cost of the structure.

Tim White said...

This council is not filling in the pool if the referendum fails either.

I agree.

What you can be certain of is that when the bubble does need to be replaced whether in a planned for replacement or reacting to some emergency failure during a high wind or heavy snow storm (for safty purposes there is emergency support structure inside the bubble enclosure)the matter will come before the public once again.

I disagree. I'm not convinced the current council would have five votes to send another bubble to referendum.

Tim White said...

Tony, there's a link in the main post. But I got it wrong. It's one 12 mos position and one six months position. My mistake. I didn't have it in front of me. Not sure why no one corrected me last night... but then correcting me would've required someone to acknowledge the 1.5 FTEs... and that certainly wasn't going to convince anyone that the hocus pocus was actually valid.

But there's all sorts of assumptions that are simply that... assumptions...that could be changed by a Council to reduce spending and the subsidy.

But who am I to speak? The current Administration is just wonderful! From what I understand, we have another opportunity to hire a new cop now as we've just lost the third sworn office in the past month... yippee!

Anonymous said...

"The pool is a town asset we are utilizing and still paying for. Filling it in is nonsence and turning it into a seasonal facility eliminates the Y as a paying user of the pool. "

So, maybe the town council can provide us all with some detailed numbers concerning who is using the pool? It sure never looks very busy. There are usually some cars in front of it but in reality it just doesn't look like more than 50 or 100 people use it, ever.

You can consider it an asset if you wish. Many of us tax payers consider it an unnecessary property tax inflator in a time of economic trouble. Many tax payers wonder just why we need to be taxed for a pool in the first place too. Maybe there is some state statute somewhere that has pontificated that there must be indoor heated swimming pools or our towns will crumble - - -?

Adding another 10 million or so to what you refer to as an asset has just got to make at least some residents begin to wonder just what your definition of an asset is. Is an asset something which requires an additional investment of over 5 times its original cost to make it right and attractive enough to get and maintain users?

Mr. Slocum with all due respect, the present pool is not really an asset. It is a failure pure and simple. And filling it in would be the most expedient and cost effective way of dealing with its long term demonstrated failure.

Anonymous said...

who the hell cares about the damn swim team??? we are losing 14 teachers, someone tell me WHY we are wasting any more money on this pit, it royally SUCKS, give my kid a decent education and then lets look at a pool, so insane that this is even being discussed.

Anonymous said...

"who the hell cares about the damn swim team??? we are losing 14 teachers, someone tell me WHY we are wasting any more money on this pit, it royally SUCKS, give my kid a decent education and then lets look at a pool, so insane that this is even being discussed."

You're a bit late to the party...not only was it discussed but it was approved for referendum next month. Get with the program.

Anonymous said...

yeah, thanks - been at every meething for months -with the program,just shocked at these idiots....

Stan Marsh said...

"who the hell cares about the damn swim team??? we are losing 14 teachers, someone tell me WHY we are wasting any more money on this pit, it royally SUCKS, give my kid a decent education and then lets look at a pool, so insane that this is even being discussed."

Since when is your kid God's gift to Cheshire? Great argument there...I'm sure you'll win many over with your insightful assessment of the project.

Anonymous said...

It seems like there have been a number of people crying out for the number of individual town residents that actually use the pool. Why aren't these numbers available?
Is it due to poor management of the pool?
Is it that someone is afraid to release these numbers?

I find it totally inexcusable that we are not being provided with these numbers.

I, personally, do not use the pool, but that doesn't mean I would vota against the referendum. I need to see if it is good for the town or a select few.
When you hear that it will only cost each household $11 per year, it doesn't sound like a lot. However, how do I know that that figure is accurate. If I recall, the original cost of the pool went up 3 or 4 times from what they originally told us. How do we prevent that from happening.

If I don't have these numbers by the day of the referendum, I have no choice but to vote against it. I will urge all other voters to do the same.
An uneducated vote is trouble.

GET THE NUMBERS!!

Anonymous said...

I find it hard to believe there was not a better option between the bubble and the $7 million option. The pool supporters are selling $11 per tax unit, but the last time I checked, I would still have to pay to use it. They have lost all perspective in that they are selling that it will reduce the cost to the taxpayers to "only" about $100,000 a year. I don't support the councils stance on much because I think they are too conservative; they are way off base with this option. Wrong choice, wrong time. NO.

Anonymous said...

To all pool critics on this thread including Tim White who is an elected official and part of the administration, demanding numbers on attendance and alledging cover up of information you are simply seeking facts, which you will interpret to support your case for a NO vote. Go ahead...vote it down that is your right and your duty.

But keep this in mind the bubble will go up and down a few more times and you will still get to bitch about the wasted money associated with the pool. You have no regard for a solution and that is your right but don't paint a picture that the PBC has not presented enough information...there is info-galore.

As for councilman Tim White who has worked very hard to get to the point we are with a referendum being presented to the voters. His position to vote no is perfectly fine and he has much has said that he might not support it as long as 2-3 years ago but he is also being a bit of a coward too. Yes,he is brave enough to remain a critic, made all possible by the the bubbles failure, but otherwise foolish enough to close the door on the pools new found opportunity for success as a community asset that costs a lot less than the bubble.

For one who has pleaded for better options to the bubble, he has been the energy liaison to council and supported anything in town to save money there and he has advocated for performance contracting. All this good work and finally some success and he says no? One can only conclude that Councilman White needs to think long and hard about what he is advocating for.

As of now it looks like Tim White is down to firing the town manager since the town manager (the adminstration) who is responcible for all the wrong numbers on attendance, summer only costs, etc. and everything gone wrong in the police dept. How do you Norton parents feel now.

Anonymous said...

The comments on this page are probably a good indication of what the general public wants before we vote: the NUMBERS.

The Council needs to (1) get the numbers from Mr. Milone, and (2) check his figures for credibility. Otherwise, this referendum will go down to defeat for lack of basic info.

Anonymous said...

I am guessing that 1:29 might be a councilman.

1:32 You have it right. If this vote fails it will be the council's own fault that they didn't present facts and figures of the current pool attendees.

Anonymous said...

According to another blog, on the average, 6 daily passes were sold each day. That does not include season passes, teams, etc. This is for the 08-09 fiscal year.

Sad this this information doesn't come from a councilman. What do they have to hide?

Anonymous said...

Wow...glad to see the scrutiny over the numbers on the pool. I wonder if the same scrutiny will be applied to the turf proposal heading to the TC next month.

Anonymous said...

"Sad this this information doesn't come from a councilman. What do they have to hide?"

Actually, what's even sadder is why doesn't the Town Manager disclose this information? What's he got to hide?

Has anyone tried calling the Town Manager's office directly and asking for this information?

Anonymous said...

RE: "why doesn't the Town Manager disclose this information? What's he got to hide?"

It's the TM, not council members, who has the numbers. However, it's up to the council to demand he release the numbers. And if they don't or he won't, Freedom of Information action anyone?

Anonymous said...

"Actually, what's even sadder is why doesn't the Town Manager disclose this information? What's he got to hide?"

Politicians blaming each other. Here is something new. haha.


"I wonder if the same scrutiny will be applied to the turf proposal heading to the TC next month."

The turf is being funded by DONATION. That is quite a bit different than the estimated $20 to as much as $40 per year in taxes for the NEXT 20 YEARS.

ok, ok, we all know what the REAL difference is: the turf does not fit into this council's agenda.

Anonymous said...

"The turf is being funded by DONATION. That is quite a bit different than the estimated $20 to as much as $40 per year in taxes for the NEXT 20 YEARS."

Hmm...it may be true that the installation of the turf field may be paid for with donated money + taxpayer money (grant). But...what about the replacement costs every 8 years? Who is footing that bill I wonder?

Like the current bubble, the turf has a life expectancy of 8 years and $500K to replace. Yes, the wonderful donors are giving the rest of Cheshire a gift that just keeps on giving.

I wonder if the turf committee will able to take a page from the PBC and calculate actual life-cycle costs of the turf over 40 years? Put it all out there as well as how the replacement costs will be funded.

At least the pool committee has the intestinal fortitude to be completely open and transparent with the pool enclosure and put it out for a vote. The turf committee, however, figured it would be better to back-door the turf field on to Cheshire in order to satisfy a few, organized participants while ignoring the majority of folks in Cheshire that simply don't want it or it's tax burden.

If you really stand behind the turf field, put it out as a question on the November ballot. Let's all folks in Cheshire vote on it rather than hide behind donations that don't represent Cheshire.

But that option isn't on the turf committee's agenda, is it?

Anonymous said...

If the council doesn't order Mr. Milone to release the pool use numbers, it will seriously damage the council's credibility.

If the council fails to do so, 6:16pm above suggests using the Freedom of Information Act. An added advantage of FOIA is that under court order, it's less likely the TM will doctor the numbers. Tim, are you up for filing a FOI request?