Price Tag Shocks the Conscience
A $10 million dollar tax proposal for swimming pool renovations is being floated by Lebanon school administrators and aquatic district personnel -- just as Lebanon taxpayers are drowning in debt. Many residents are shocked, scratching their heads, suggesting such a large tax bond for pool repairs makes no sense. To put this in perspective, Disneyworld in Orlando, Florida built their giant water-park Typhoon Lagoon for $20 million dollars. It has water slides, walkways, fake mountains and backdrops, wave tanks, tube canals and much more.
The proposal seems outrageous to many citizens and shocks the public conscience on many levels. First, the pool and building were likely built for less than $1 million back in the 1970s. Even with todayâ€™s inflation adjusted dollars the pool and building could be entirely torn-down, dug-out and replaced with a larger fancier brand-new pool and building, twice the size with numerous additional amenities for under $3.4 million. Not being specific for how $10 million would be spent has people suspecting hidden-agendas. Theyâ€™ve been through similar bait-and-switches with the superintendent on other issues.
Next, this pool is the only reason for a Lebanon aquatic district tax. Every property owner in the Lebanon school district pays a tax just for this pool as part of their yearly tax bill. People also pay user-fees every time they use the pool. The public was promised the aquatic district tax and user-fees were for pool maintenance, upkeep and repair. These taxes and fees have accumulated millions of dollars. Citizens tracking the issue want to know what happened. Many suggest it is a management and planning failure to simply defer maintenance, not sequester needed funds, then declare a crisis and shift the cost to taxpayers. Financial foresight and budget allocation is a school superintendents primary responsibility and especially disturbing in this case, since the current superintendentâ€™s previous position was director of district maintenance.
The taxpaying public does not feel school administrators or aquatic district personnel are being strait with them. Justifications for spending $10 million on the pool are vague, non-specific and there are no fully developed project documents. Some justifications include, â€œthe pipes below the pool are corroded and could collapse anytime -- shutting the pool downâ€, â€œThe boiler is old and must be replaced â€“ it could go tomorrow or 5 years, who knows.â€ Pool contractors have countered that there are actually only a couple drain pipes under pools. They are replaced like pipes under a city street. A new top-end boiler can be purchased for less than $250-400 thousand. What exactly is $10 million for? From a practical perspective there are approximately 30,000 people in the Lebanon School District, probably less than 1000 use the pool. These are also the same taxpayers and citizens who were shut out of the pool for almost 2 years -- plenty of time to get repairs and boiler replacements accomplished.
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Terrible management, drowning in red-tape and over-priced contractors should not be thrown a life-preserver by Lebanon taxpayers. The school and aquatic district are apparently struggling to manage and keep up with maintenance and repairs. More importantly, Lebanon high school ranks at the bottom, 228th out of 262 high schools in Oregon in academic performance, 77% of Lebanonâ€™s 11th graders cannot do grade-level science and math. The drop-out rate is approaching 30%. The public has been speaking out that the top priority of the superintendent, school administrators and some board members must be a laser-focus on getting standards for Lebanon schools back to some semblance of academic acceptability â€“ not swimming pools, socialized medicine clinics, and unwanted progressive curricula.
The Lebanon pool is a great community asset and should not go away. However, many citizens think it should be removed from school and aquatic district control because of ineffective financial management and planning failures. Many would like to see it become a Lebanon community fitness asset â€“ free to taxpayers and their families who pay for it. The pool would remain in place with continued use by the high-school swim team as usual. A public field-house with an indoor track and fitness equipment could be built in the open-ground beside the swimming pool, which would also be part of a Lebanon community fitness center, free of burdensome bureaucratic school district rules, restrictions and shut-downs and available to citizens year-round. Pool repairs and a beautiful steel-frame fitness center could be accomplished for much less than the $10 million request for basic pool repairs. Voters in Lebanon may want to save $10 million and send district administrators back to the drawing board.
|Post Date: 2022-05-03 09:47:41||Last Update: 2022-05-03 16:26:12|