Carbondale moves toward April ballot question to fund aquatics facility upgrade
Plan calls for separate lap, entertainment pools, hot tub and splash pad
Carbondale voters will likely be asked in the April 2022 election whether the town should take on debt to fund an estimated $7 million rebuild of the municipal pool facility.
The town last year completed its Aquatics Facility Master Plan and shopped it out to the public for input.
The plan calls for converting the existing pool facility at the southeast corner of Main and Seventh streets to include multiple bodies of water, a dedicated three- or four-lane lap pool, a 3,000 square-foot entertainment pool, a 2,500-square-foot splash pad, and a 200-square-foot hot tub.
The project would also feature a new 3,800-square-foot bathhouse with optional second-floor space and a shaded lounge area along the west side.
The refurbished pool site would stay primarily within the existing footprint, with some expansion to the west where an existing ditch would be placed underground, and to the south to accommodate the splash pad.
Carbondale trustees discussed a cost analysis and financing details presented by Parks and Recreation Director Eric Brendlinger at their Dec. 14 meeting.
The board agreed to draft ballot language to put before voters at the scheduled April 5, 2022, town election, when the mayor’s seat and three town board seats will also be up for election.
An analysis conducted for the town by Hilltop Securities determined that a bond issue could be accomplished using existing revenues from a dedicated recreation sales and use tax.
No new taxes would be needed, Brendlinger said.
Hilltop estimated that an $8 million bond amount — allowing some cushion as project costs may exceed current estimates — would have a net interest rate of 3.69%, with a total repayment of about $12.6 million, Brendlinger said.
A 20% contingency is already built into the current project cost estimate of $7 million to $7.4 million, he said.
A big question is how to cover annual operating costs, Brendlinger said.
The existing pool and recreation center operations are already subsidized by the town’s general fund, which costs about $321,000 annually; $125,000 of which is for the pool, he said.
With the pool facility expansion, that cost is expected to increase to $267,000 for the regular pool season, and to $330,600 for an expanded season.
Some of that could be absorbed within the existing tax revenues, but an additional subsidy will likely be needed to cover operating expenses, he said.
“It’s still pretty possible,” Brendlinger said of the analysis.
Additional revenue options have also been discussed, including building and making a second floor over the bathhouse available for rent or use fees, or possibly even employee housing.
Other fundraising options might include the creation of a local foundation to accept tax-deductible donations to the pool project, naming rights or sponsorships for the facility, and one-time grants, Brendlinger said in his report.
The bond amount could also be reduced from $8 million to $7 million, resulting in an estimated $443,600 savings in annual bond payments, he said.
A phased project over multiple years and with separate financing is also a possibility, but could result in greater costs in the long run, he said.
Brendlinger pointed to two other recent municipal pool projects, in Basalt and Rifle, as examples of different financing options. The $3.3 million Arbaney Park Pool project in Basalt utilized certificates of participation.
And Rifle’s $7.7 million Art Dague Pool renovation this year was paid for in part with a $6 million voter-approved loan using an existing 1% sales tax, plus a $500,000 Garfield County Federal Mineral Lease District grant. Other city revenues are being used to make up the difference.
Senior Reporter/Managing Editor John Stroud can be reached at 970-384-9160 or email@example.com.
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