All homeowners living within Molalla River School District would share the cost of pool operations if voters say 'Yes' to Measure 3-516

PIONEER FILE PHOTO - Molalla Aquatic CenterThe Molalla pool has been closed to families in the community for the past three years.

When the city closed the pool back in 2014, city administrators said the city budget could no longer handle the cost of operating the pool.

Now voters living within the Molalla River School District have a chance to take the pool back by voting yes on Measure 3-516 to create a Molalla Aquatic District.

The aquatic district would include all land located within the school district, including land outside the city limits of Molalla.

That would mean the cost of operating the pool would be shared equally by everyone living within the school district.

"People didn't think it was fair that only residents of the city paid for pool operations when the pool was open to all residents in the area," said Marilyn Bloch, a member of the Friends of the Molalla Pool organization.

Last summer the Molalla River School District stepped up and took over costs of the pool operations, freeing the city from its contract.

But the school district was only able to pay for opening the pool to the Molalla High School Swim Team and swim lessons for some Molalla schoolchildren. The pool is still not open to the public.

CHARLIE WILLIAMS - Marilyn Bloch, left, and Paula Beck present an overview of Molalla Aquatict District Measure 3-516 to members of the Molalla Kiwanis last Wednesday. 
Everyone living within the school district paid to have the aquatic center built back in 2001. Now they would all share the cost of operating the pool.

"The people who built the pool are the voters and residents of the Molalla River School District," said Paula Beck during a presentation on the Molalla Aquatic District. "They are the ones to ask: 'Do you want your pool open?'

"MRSD was never intended to pay for the operation of the pool. They have enough on their plate already."

The measure asks to create a Molalla Aquatic District to pay for operation of the pool year-round.

Here are the key points of Measure 3-516:

- The Molalla River School District and the city of Molalla co-sponsored Measure 3-516 to establish an aquatic district for the sole purpose of operating and maintaining the Molalla Aquatic Center.

- The new aquatic district would encompass the same boundaries as the Molalla River School District.

- Passing the measure would establish a tax base of 29 cents per $1000 of assessed value. Careful research has shown that amount would provide all the funding the pool needs. The rate can be lowered, but it can never be raised without a new vote.

- The cost would be spread across the entire school district - by the same people who paid to build the pool and enjoyed using it - not just the residents within the city of chMolalla.

- An elected, unpaid board of five local people would provide oversight and fiduciary guidance in the pool's best interest.

"The pool district would be run by local people elected by the voters," Beck said. "We want local control for our local facility."

Molalla Fire District

Beck said the aquatic district would affect revenues for the Molalla Fire District only slightly.

The property tax limitation laws mean that there is a $10 per $1,000 cap on non-school property taxes. When the $10 cap is reached, existing taxes on other local tax districts are lowered slightly in order to fund all districts.

This is called compression.

The Molalla Fire District would lose about $19,510, about one percent of their approximately $2.8 million budget.

"We are aksing the MFD to give up a little bit," Beck said. "But through the aquatic district, the fire district would get a complimentary program to add to their own safety programs, because they are concerned about safety, and swim lessons for local children would be a safety measure. So the two districts would compliment each other."

How does a pool serve Molalla-area residents?

Proponents of the Molalla Aquatic District list multiple ways the pool serves people living in the Molalla area.

- Safety: Our rivers and streams attract local children, and teaching them to swim helps keep them safe in the water their whole lives.

- Physical Fitness: Lack of exercise is a health issue in our community. Swimming and water exercise are proven to improve fitness at all ages. Water exercise is sometimes the only way that injured and disabled folks and elders can safely get the exercise they need.

- Swim Team: The pool gives student athletes on the Molalla High School Swim Team a place to practice, without having to travel distances to use another city's pool. Also, district meets are held in Molalla, which brings a sense of status to the community and business to downtown Molalla.

- Recreation: A centrally located public pool in our community provides a major source of recreation close to home, for young people.

- Community space: The pool provides a place for community members to gather for parties, meetings, and group activities.

- Jobs: The pool employs lifeguards and swim instructors, jobs generally filled by local high school tudents.

- Focused governance: Creating an aquatic district means a dedicated, elected board of directors would oversee management of the Molalla swimming pool.

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