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Director gives insight into state of SARC
To provide the public with the reasoning behind the Sequim Aquatic Recreation Center (SARC) Board of Commissioner’s recent decision to put the question of a six year, 12 cent property tax levy on the February ballot, SARC officials hosted an informative meeting and presentation from SARC director Scott Deschenes.
The July 23 meeting was held in the gym at SARC and the space was nearly filled with individuals eager to learn about the status of the public facility.
If the levy for SARC passes, it will mark the first taxpayer funding in 12 years, said Frank Pickering, chair of the board of commissioners.
The proposed levy was prompted by the prediction that by early next year the reserve funds for the SARC will be about $301,000 and the air handling unit, a critical piece of equipment, identified as needing replaced will alone cost about $350,000, Pickering said.
In addition, SARC officials anticipate and are aware of increased maintenance and operation costs as the facility nears it 27th year in operation.
“We built a trust fund at one point and we’ve been living off that, but it can’t sustain us any longer,” Deschenes said during his presentation.
If a levy is not passed Deschenes anticipates the facility will close by the end of 2017.
The proposed six year property tax levy would impact homes within the Clallam County Park and Recreation District 1. At a maximum of 12 cent per $1,000 of assessed property value, the levy would cost the average homeowner $26.04 per year. Overall the levy could generate more than $2.5 million.
Although SARC directly benefits more than 3000 members, Deschenes took the opportunity during his presentation to explain to the audience why the facility is a benefit to the community as a whole and not just the members.
Examples given included the facility is a community attraction, improves home resale value, attracts small businesses, provides an asset for local tourism and attracts retirees.
“It is my goal to provide accurate facts,” Deschenes said. “Some of the stuff we want to do as the election gets closer is hold facility tours and we’ll probably have another public meeting in the fall or early next year.”
In an attempt to stay consistent with the original purpose of SARC as a public facility for the entire community to enjoy Deschenes has lowed the users rates, created a variety of unique membership plans and expanded upon programs in an attempt to get a broad demographic through the doors.
“I’ve been trying to set a mid-point where it’s not too cheap, but also not too expensive for people to be able to use the facility,” Deschenes said. “A lot of people forget how affordable this place really is.”
The SARC is operated by funds of the junior taxing district, similar to the library or fire and water districts.
Cost of memberships and fees are intended to offset the facility’s impact on taxpayers, but not be the sole source of funding.
As the largest recreation facility on the Peninsula, in order to receive an equivalent service a person would have to both travel to Port Angeles and purchase a membership for William Shore Memorial Pool and a membership to the YMCA Deschenes said.
Given Deschenes position with SARC as a paid employee he is only available to provide factual information about the facility, whereas Susan Sorensen’s goal as the chair of the Citizens For SARC campaign committee is to provide community outreach and education in support of the levy.
“The main thing we need to focus on right now is to determine the amount of money in our (the campaign committee’s) account,” Sorensen said. “That will decide the direction of the campaign.”
Sorensen is working on putting together a presentation on SARC that she’ll be presenting to anyone interested, including homeowners association and community groups as the election nears.
Citizens For SARC public meeting
When: 6 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 7
Where: Fifth Avenue Retirement Center at 500 W. Hendrickson Road
More information: citizensforSARC@gmail.com
Reach Alana Linderoth at firstname.lastname@example.org