City to approach HealthFitness with list of wants for rec center
As the city works to reach a contract with a Minnepolis-based health and fitness company to provide recreational services to city residents, the Sherwood City Council provided the company with a wish list of goods and services it would like to have.
During a work session Monday, the Sherwood City Council ticked off all the attributes it would like to see as it negotiates a contract with HealthFitness, a for-profit company that the council hopes will provide services at the city-owned recreation center currently operated by the YMCA of the Columbia-Willamette.
"What's important? What do you want to see in the proposed contract," City Manager Joe Gall asked the council to consider during the meeting.
On Aug. 15, the council agreed to pursue a contract with HealthFitness as a 20-year contract with the YMCA is set to expire in a year. That pursuit has drawn criticism in some quarters in part because both HealthFitness and Tualatin Hills Parks & Recreation District predicted deficits over five years while the YMCA said it would have a surplus.
According to city officials, Tualatin Hills Parks & Recreation District predicted a $2.38 million deficit for the first five years of a contract, while HealthFitness showed a deficit of about $480,700 in the same time period. Meanwhile, YMCA officials predicted a surplus of $119,310 over those same five years.
During the Aug. 29 meeting, Councilor Sally Robinson said she wanted to make sure the new company would allow the Sherwood High School swim team to continue to use the pool. In addition, Robinson said she wants HealthFitness to tell the city how they could improve the facility.
Councilor Jennifer Harris said she wants to ensure there are U.S. Swim School Association- or American Red Cross-sanctioned swim classes.
At the same time, Mayor Krisanna Clark-Endicott said she would like to see continuation of a Silver Sneakers-type program, which is a free YMCA fitness program designed with Baby Boomers in mind, while Councilor Kim Young said she wanted to see the current YMCA programming stay in place at least for a year.
Among the discussion was talk about start-up costs and funding deficits related to HealthFitness, which officially could take over once the YMCA contract expires Oct. 31, 2018, if the councils agrees to a contract.
Throughout the meeting, Councilor Sean Garland said that he doesn't want to see the city absorb any deficit.
"I'd like to reiterate my statement, I don't want to see any loses whatsoever," said Garland.
However, Councilor Jennifer Kuiper said it would be unrealistic to think any company could absorb first-year start-up costs and that HealthFitness shouldn't be expected to be in the black right away.
Likewise, Councilor Harris said she'd like to see 100 percent cost recovery by HealthFitness within three years.
Clark-Endicott reminded councilors that there are costs associated with any new project, pointing to the start-up costs associated with the Sherwood Center for the Arts when it opened more than two years ago.
Katy Henry, Sherwood's finance director, said while some choices regarding cuts in the budget might have to be made to help fund costs associated with a new fitness provider, the city will see additional revenues from several sources that could offset those deficits.
For her part, Kuiper said she wants to keep the YMCA teen center program and Garland said he wants to keep the current the childcare program the YMCA offers.
Some of the Aug. 29 discussion also centered on questions regarding who owns the equipment at the recreation facility. Gall said that HealthFitness is working under the assumption that the city owns the equipment. City Attorney Josh Soper said the current operating agreement is hard to nail down regarding who owns what and what equipment is leased.
Finance Director Henry said if she had a crystal ball, her guess is that the city will end up owning half of the equipment now used at the YMCA. She said HealthFitness likely leases its equipment and believes they have contracts that will allow them to purchase equipment at a lower rate.
Meanwhile, the council agreed that the Sherwood Parks and Recreation Board would be the best oversight group to oversee HealthFitness operations.
Kuiper also said she would like to see existing staff be kept on board for at least a year while Clark-Endicott said although current staffers should have opportunities to apply, they shouldn't guarantee all staff a spot under new management.
Gall said he thought he had what he needed to return to HealthFitness officials to continue to negotiate a contract.
"You're not going to get everything," he reminded the council.
Plans are to return to the council on Sept. 19 or Oct. 3 with contract language that could be approved or rejected. If there's a motion to vote on the contract and it's a tie vote, the motion fails, City Attorney Soper pointed out. From there, the council could expand its time for consideration, cancel the initial request for proposal and start over, or select the second-place contender, which was the YMCA.