MAC opens July 1
Over the past weeks, parks, the bowling alley and theater have all reopened under Gov. Kate Brown's Phase 2 guidelines. But the Madras Aquatic Center's pools remain empty. For now.
Filters sit on the concrete, and staff are busy cleaning and doing maintenance that can't be done when the water is flowing. The tree and buckets that dump water on the heads of squealing kids are shiny and dry, and a towel sits on the slide, which has had maintenance done for the first time in years.
By Wednesday, July 1, the pools will be filled again, and the first swimmers will be allowed in under new guidelines.
MAC Recreation District Executive Director Jim Weyermann said the MAC was one of the first pools to submit a reopening plan to the governor.
That includes reducing hours and using a registration system to make sure only 50 people are in the building at a time. People will have to sign up not only for the hour block they want to swim but also for the area they want to use the most. Lap swims will be especially limited.
People from the same household don't have to stick to the 6-foot distancing requirements, and neither do those who are in established childcare groups.
In addition, information on each user will have to be filled out, not just for the person paying. That's in order to make it possible for contact tracers to let people know they've been exposed should someone who's used the pool be diagnosed with COVID-19.
"We do know from the CDC that the notion of the disease spreading in the pool is pretty remote," Weyermann said. "There's nothing simple about what we're doing ... but we have to start. We've got to keep pushing things out."
Those hourlong slots will cost $10 per person for non-members in the district and $12 for non-members outside the district.
"Regardless of whatever the challenge is, our responsibility is to create opportunities in the community to have recreational options," Weyermann said, "and that's exactly what we're going to do."
The district came into this year's budget planning with $114,000 in surplus funds and a proposed general fund budget of $1,439,800. But in his budget message, Weyermann predicted that revenues would decrease by $121,000, assuming a June 1 reopening. The general fund proposal was revised down to $1,374,511, lower than last year's adopted general fund budget of $1.6 million, but higher than its projected year-end actuals of $1.2 million.
The revisions included a decrease in expected revenue from user fees, rentals and memberships, down by $40,000. But at $304,200, that is still a significant increase from the projected 2019-20 year-end revenues, which sit at $216,596.
"There are some cost savings from our draining of the pools, reduction of all utilities usage and the part-time employee layoffs which will help bridge the gap," Weyermann wrote in his budget message.
The county as agreed to lend the district up to $200,000 to cover the 90 days or so until property taxes are collected in October.
"The stimulus package from government is unclear on how it will impact the special parks districts," he wrote.
"In a different year, we wouldn't have been able to maintain core operations," Weyermann said Monday, adding that staff wouldn't have been able to seek grants or write the recovery plan that has allowed the MAC to reopen.
The difference this year? "We put in an operations plan that works," Weyerman said.
"You have to have discipline in your cost recovery program, which means sometimes you have to say no."
He said the district has been program-driven, but that hasn't always matched its financial reality.
People aren't happy with some of the changes, Weyermann said, but the district has a charge to be operational 50 years from now, not just currently.
That's meant an emphasis on recreational programs, which help underwrite the cost of running the pool.
The district saw a record number of participants in its basketball program, in part due to a partnership with the Jefferson County 509-J School District.
The district had its final budget hearing Tuesday, June 23.
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