Wilson/Chapman plan may bring pool to Susanville
Aug. 8, 2013 — A city councilmember and a veteran Lassen County Supervisor, acting as individual members of their respective elected bodies, say its time for the city and the county to work together to build a pool in Susanville.
Councilmember Brian Wilson and District 2 Supervisor Jim Chapman announced a new plan for a pool in Susanville at 1:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 9 at the Kids Fest held at Susanville Supermarket.
Although the plan some may see as controversial needs approval by both the Susanville City Council and the Lassen County Board of Supervisors to become a reality, Chapman said it’s time to move the pool project forward.
Wilson and Chapman released a memorandum titled, “Lassen Community Pool Construction and Operating Costs Proposal” outlining their plan as community supporters counted up recent donations in the Pennies for the Pool project that has now collected more than S10,000.
“We both believe the construction of a new pool is our community’s highest unmet recreational priority,” Wilson and Chapman wrote. “Our basic assumption is that the voters expect local government to apply their resources to the community’s highest priorities. There is currently a pool planning process led by the county administrative officer and supported by an ad hoc group of county, city, school district, college and community members. We believe that it is time to more formally constitute a ‘Pool Commission’ through a JPA between the county and city with the decision-making ability to fund, construct, maintain and operate a pool.”
According to their proposal, the project would be governed by a newly created joint powers agency comprised of two members from the city council and two members from the board of supervisors. Those four would appoint a fifth member from the public who is not affiliated with either the city or the county.
Both the city and the county would agree to share equally the cost of building and operating the pool to be constructed somewhere in the Susanville area.
Wilson and Chapman propose both the city and the county shall “agree to appropriate an amount up to $200,000 per year” for the next 15 years to build and operate the pool. Before the end of the 15-year period, a successor agency, such as a recreation district, will assume responsibility for the operation of the facility.
In an interview with the newspaper, Chapman acknowledged there are many different ideas circulating through the community regarding the design of the pool and its features as well as potential sites for the facility, and he said those discussions are valuable, but he and Wilson want to see the project begin moving forward now. Chapman said the new joint powers agency may not have the funding to build the entire facility at one time, and different parts may have to be built at different times as funding becomes available. He said the first priority would be the construction of the pool itself, and other amenities may have to come later.
“Both parties (the city and the county) recognize and agree it will be financially difficult to fulfill this financial commitment for 15 years and that the funding made available must pay for both construction costs (including interest on potential debt) and operating expenses,” Wilson and Chapman wrote. “And, as will be necessary, the facility so financed will only meet the minimal needs of the community. Therefore, the facility shall be planned to be improved over time as funding sources, other than the member agency’s general funds, become available.
According to the Wilson/Chapman plan, the city and the county will both agree to authorize the county auditor to deduct the agency’s annual share from the agency’s property tax allocation if the appropriate appropriations are not made. Neither the city nor the county would be able to default on this obligation.
“Approval of this plan will demonstrate to our community the county and the city have heard their priorities and constructed a pool,” Wilson and Chapman wrote. “This will be an incentive for our voters to help fund future improvements to the new facility and to fully meet the needs of the area.”
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