Piqua pool’s future uncertain


Over $3M needed for repairs

By Sam Wildow - Miami Valley Today



EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part two in a two-part series on the city of Piqua’s 2020 budget. Part one appeared in the Nov. 24 edition of the Miami Valley Sunday News.

PIQUA — The future of Piqua’s municipal swimming pool beyond 2020 is uncertain with over $3 million needed in repairs, according to the Piqua City Commission’s recent budget meeting last week.

The pool’s 2020 fund estimates include $49,000 in revenue; $223,051 in funds transferred from the general fund; and $272,051 in expenses. The expenses include $86,461 in labor and benefits and $185,590 in operations and maintenance.

City staff noted that this budget is just the cost needed to open the pool, but the pool needs over $3 million-worth of improvements.

“It’s in dire need of some very major repairs,” Director Brian Brookhart of the Public Works Department said.

The largest cost of those needed improvements, which are not included in this budget, would be replacing the main pool, which would cost approximately $2.5 million. Other improvements would include repairing or replacing the concrete deck, upgrading the filtration system, installing new dive boards, replacing the roof, and repairing and repainting the steel slide structure.

Thomas Fogt, who will be on the commission next year and currently sits on the Park Board, said the Park Board is open to the idea of installing a splash pad with vending machines nearby. The splash pad would not require a lifeguard, as getting lifeguards is another issue in keeping the pool open. Brookhart said every pool is struggling to keep lifeguards, noting the city had to close the pool one day last season due to not having enough lifeguards available.

“It’s a problem nation-wide,” Brookhart said. Commissioner John Martin suggesting offering higher pay. Brookhart noted the city is not going to pay lifeguards on rain days when the pool has to close. Mayor Kazy Hinds said young adults are trying to find jobs with guaranteed hours.

Use of the pool is also in decline. Brookhart said a decade ago, the city would sell over 800 summer passes. “Now, we’re not selling 200 passes,” he said.

Martin and commissioner Bill Vogt each spoke in favor of closing the pool, but Martin and Vogt will not be on the commission next year as neither of them ran for re-election. Commissioners-elect Cindy Pearson and Fogt were present at this meeting.

City Manager Gary Huff said it will be a commission decision next year about what to do with the pool as the city could be faced with not having enough lifeguards to staff the pool, or they could be faced with a critical failure of the pool due to the needed improvements. Hinds spoke about wanting to have a conversation with the public about the pool, and the other commissioners agreed on wanting community input.

In the parks fund, its 2020 budget estimates include $400,000 in revenue; $600,000 in funds transferred from the general fund; and $1.1 million in expenses. In the golf fund, its 2020 estimates include $500,000 in revenue; $300,000 in funds transferred from the general fund; and $800,000 in expenses.

• Streets

There are two street funds at the city of Piqua, including one that utilizes funds from city’s 0.25 percent street levy.

“It expires at the end of next year,” Finance Director Cynthia Holtzapple said about the street levy.

The fund with the street levy only has two expenses, capital projects and the cost of operations and maintenance. Its 2020 budget estimates include $2.2 million in revenue and $2.4 million in expenses. Its 2019 fund balance was $3.8 million, and its estimated 2020 fund balance is $3.6 million.

Capital projects for 2020 include street paving and installing ADA-compliant ramps, estimated at $750,000; west U.S. Route 36 resurfacing with the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT), estimated at $160,000; the engineering design and environmental impact study for the County Road 25-A/Looney Road roundabout, estimated at $183,900; the engineering design and environmental impact study for the Looney Road resurfacing, estimated at $90,000; and the U.S. Route 36 corridor safety project, estimated at $20,000. The last three projects are all contingent upon receiving grant awards.

Holtzapple also added that money in this fund is used to leverage state and federal grant money.

In the other street fund, its 2020 budget estimates include $3.1 million in revenue and $3.5 million in expenses. Its 2019 fund balance was $1.4 million, and its 2020 estimated fund balance is $1 million. Capital projects for 2020 include plow trucks, mowing equipment, and sonetic communication equipment, all at a total estimated cost of $600,000. Other costs include $1.3 million for labor and benefits and $1.6 million for operations and maintenance.

• Police, fire

The Piqua police and fire departments receive funding through the city’s 0.25 percent safety income tax levy, as well as from the city’s general fund.

The Piqua Police Department’s 2020 budget, which is part of the general fund, includes $2.7 million in revenue, a transfer of $2.4 million from the general fund, and $5.6 million in expenses. Expenses include $4.8 million in labor and benefits; $700,000 in operations and maintenance; and $100,000 in capital expenses. The capital expenses planned for 2020 include the cost of two cruisers and an unmarked vehicle at the cost of approximately $91,879, as well as a new fingerprint machine, a LiveScan machine and printer, at a cost of $27,500.

The Piqua Fire Department’s 2020 budget, which is also part of the general fund, includes $4.8 million in revenue, $1 million in loan proceeds, a transfer of $1.1 million from the general fund, $5.1 million in general expenses, and $2 million in capital expenses. The capital expenses include the cost of a new aerial ladder to replace the department’s current aerial ladder, which is over 30 years old, estimated at a cost of $1.3 million. Other capital expenses include a new fire engine, rolled over from 2019, as well as a new medic, a pickup truck, and a StrongArm extrication tool. The general expenses include $4.1 million for labor and benefits; $900,000 for operations and maintenance; $100,000 for its debt service.

• General fund

The general fund’s 2020 budget includes $13.3 million in revenue, $1 million in loan proceeds, and $17.6 million in expenses. Its 2019 fund balance was $5.2 million, and its estimated 2020 fund balance is $1.9 million. The appropriation of the general fund includes $5.6 million for the police department; $7.1 million for the fire department; $2.2 million for general administration; $900,000 for general government; $1.1 million for parks; and $700,000 in non-safety transfers.

“We continue to have economic and community growth,” Holtzapple said. She said there is an “engaged workforce” as the unemployment rate is under 4 percent, and she also said the city is experiencing low inflation.

Holtzapple ended the presentation by saying the city is “fiscally stable,” “continuously monitoring revenues and expenses,” and “always seeking to acquire grant opportunities.”

Over $3M needed for repairs

By Sam Wildow

Miami Valley Today

Reach Sam Wildow at swildow@aimmediamidwest.com. ©2019 Miami Valley Today, all rights reserved.

Reach Sam Wildow at swildow@aimmediamidwest.com. ©2019 Miami Valley Today, all rights reserved.