Photo by Dean Crandall

City officials met with members of the Budget, Finance and Operations subcommittee Monday to discuss mitigating costs associated with Copper Sky Regional Park and Recreation Center.

During the meeting at City Hall, city council and BFO members Nancy Smith, Peggy Chapados and Mayor Christian Price discussed adjusting fees and hours of operation at the Aquatic Center, and possibly bringing in private management to reduce costs at Copper Sky.

Currently, Aquatic Center membership revenue only generates about $125,000, not even a quarter of the roughly $540,000 in annual operating costs.

The city has determined the Aquatic center should alter fee structures and cut hours wherever possible to cover the estimated $415,000 in remaining costs.

The shortfall, said City Manager Gregory Rose, should be no surprise.

“Pools historically just don’t cover themselves,” Rose said.

To help with the shortfall, the city asked the Community Services Department to submit a list of immediate cost-saving reductions they could make to this year’s budget. However, with only $22,250 in suggested “immediate reductions,” the bulk of which was made to personnel hours, the BFO had to find alternative methods for solving the problem.

Price said the city should consider a reasonable increase in membership fees to reconcile expenses associated with the recent minimum wage increases.

“We still have to talk about staying in the market so people come and use the facility, but at the same time, the rates of everyone’s minimum wages are going up,” Price said. “And, we haven’t changed the rates on the facility, or anything therein, in the last three years.”

Price further suggested looking into corporate sponsorship of special events such as the Spring Egg Dive and Movies in The Pool, or start charging a $1 or $2 fee for the events.

Another cut suggested by the Community Service report was to limit the Leisure Pool operations during slower months. Currently it operates from April 18 to Oct. 15. The report suggests changing that to May 15 to Aug. 15 due to fewer school-aged swimmer utilizing the pool during school time.

It was also suggested in the report the Competition Pool, which is open year-round, be closed between Nov. 15 to Jan. 15.

Combined, these reductions could save the city another $100,000, according to the report.

Aside from cuts, a newly-formed sales team will try to drum up revenue by pushing membership sales and corporate outreach.

However, Copper Sky fitness coordinator Matthew Reiter said the industry standard for recreation center membership is about 3 percent of the population in a three-mile proximity.

A previous market penetration analysis was done in the past, Reiter said. He added he did not understand how it was conducted and thus didn’t trust its accuracy enough to cite the numbers.

To fully understand the potential number of memberships, Rose asked Community Services to conduct a Market Analysis.

“As it exists today in our market, how many memberships can we reasonably expect?” Rose hypothetically posited. “How well can you expect this facility to do?”

Rose also made a request for information regarding a third-party operating the Aquatic Center. A subsequent cost comparison, he said, will help them decided how to move on from there.

Officials also discussed lowering the cost of landscaping around Copper Sky Regional Park by contracting with a private company. The city hopes a bidding process for the contract will help them further trim expenses.

All of these items are set to be debated in future BFO meetings, and any subsequent changes to fee structures, operating hours or private contracts at Copper Sky will then be made by City Council.