Lifeguard/Instructor Kole Stein, right, keeps watch during swim lessons for local students at Veterans Memorial Pool. (CHRIS BAXTER/The Observer)
The La Grande City Council may soon consider implementing a utility fee dedicated to the operation of the Veterans' Memorial Pool. The Parks and Recreation Advisory Commission during the 2013-14 budget process was charged with developing potential solutions for funding the pool and has recommended a monthly $2 utility fee.
The commission found that each dollar assessed would raise $50,000 a year. A yearly assessment of $100,000 for the pool would free up money in the general fund, City Manager Robert Strope said during a Monday night work session.
Under the commission's recommendation, each water bill could be used as a free swim pass.
Councilor John Bozarth asked whether it would be as effective to close the pool for a three-month or six-month period each year. The commission said the savings would not be that great and that a closure would drive people away. Members stressed that keeping the pool open means children and teens can be kept busy and out of harmful activities like drinking and drugs.
Other ideas explored by the commission included privatization of the pool, using a third-party operator, assessing a five-year pool operating levy and creating an aquatics district.
See full coverage in Wednesday's edition of The Observer.