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Friday, Jun. 14, 2024

VW Council hears more pool-related info

DAVE MOSIER/for the independent

Van Wert Mayor Ken Markward provided information to City Council, meeting as a committee of the whole on Monday evening, to help it answer what he called “Three Big Questions.” Those questions are, according to Markward: 1. What would a pool cost? 2. How would it be paid for? and 3. Where would it be located?

Van Wert Mayor Ken Markward provides information on a possible city pool project. Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent

The mayor first noted that parks systems, which often include swimming pools, do not normally make enough revenue to pay for themselves, but need subsidies from city tax coffers. However, parks, in general, are usually something people are willing to support because of their intrinsic value to a community.

“We don’t have parks because they are a source of revenue, we have them because we want them,” he said.

Markward noted Van Wert’s parks budget for 2023 was $482,450 out of a total general fund budget of $5.4 million, with the parks system providing a large number of recreational services to the community, often at no cost to city residents.

Architects for Brandstetter Carroll Inc. already provided a cost estimate of between $5 million and $8 million for the pool project, with a rough estimate of $7.5 million, which included approximately $70,000 for yearly operations, the mayor said Monday. The cost could be even higher, though, since the project would have to be bid out if a tax levy was approved by voters.

The current cost estimate is more than twice the $3 million estimate to build a similar pool when it was proposed in 2012.

Even if Council gets behind the project, Markward cautioned it cannot vote to raise taxes on its own to pay for it, but would need to place a tax issue on the ballot for approval by voters.

According to the mayor, current interest estimates for a pool project loan are 4.25 percent for an issue under 20 years in length, and 4.5 percent for issues that run over 20 years.

Markward also noted that an income tax issue would likely be preferable to a property tax levy because it provides protection for senior citizens and those on a fixed income, while social security, pensions, military benefits, interest and dividends, and disability payments are not taxed by the city.

The mayor also provided a list of income tax rates that would be needed, depending on the length of the levy. 

Tax rates needed to pay the cost of pool construction and operation, Markward said, range from an 0.08 percent, 34-year levy that would cost $80 a year for someone making $100,000, to an 0.12, 16-year levy that would cost $120 annually for a person making $100,000.

Currently, the median annual household income for city residents is $51,412.

The mayor noted that the city could possibly receive some money from the Ohio Capital Budget, but likely not more than $1 million – and possibly much less.

There is precedent for a separate tax issue for parks and swimming pools, Markward said. Delphos residents pay a .25 income tax to fund its parks system, while the village of Ada has a .55 percent tax to fund just its swimming pool.

Still unanswered, however, is the location for a city pool, although Markward suggested the former city-county pool location on Fox Road, and First Ward Councilman Jeff Agler thought the former Washington School lot was the best site within the city.

Two questions not on the list — but which would definitely need to be answered — are whether city residents actually want a city pool, and will they approve a tax levy to support one.

“I don’t think we can make a decision until they (city residents) tell us what they want,” Fourth Ward Councilmann Bill Marshall noted.

Council members appeared to favor some type of community survey to try and answer those two critically important questions.

Also Monday, Council touched briefly on a zoning issue on Kear Road, with Council President Thad Eikenbary assigning the issue to the Judiciary/Annexation Committee for further action. Council has 30 days to make a decision on the requested change.

The next regular meeting of Van Wert City Council will be on Monday, April 10. 

POSTED: 04/01/24 at 10:56 pm. FILED UNDER: News