Opinion

SARC an asset to Sequim Community, pool included

After the Sequim Aquatic Recreation Center Board of Commissioners passed a resolution to place a 12 cents per $1,000 (assessed valuation) levy on the February 2015 ballot, there was a guest comment that suggests that SARC should solve its financial difficulties by “continuing the monumental efforts of Director Scott Deschenes of initiating innovative programs to encourage public usage of SARC (plan C) and, if that is unsuccessful, close the pool (plan D), which is a major cost to SARC. (“SARC board pleads; the public pays,” Guest Opinion by Bill Black, Sequim Gazette, July 16, page A-10).

The board strongly concurs with the many people who have praised director Deschenes’ results. In the past year since he joined SARC, his programs and leadership have caused a major turnaround in SARC’s performance of serving the aquatic and exercise recreations needs of all in eastern Clallam County. Even with increased revenues, current income is about 80 percent of operating costs, which if far better than the typical 65 percent for facilities of this type. In addition, there still remains a large backlog of deferred equipment replacement and maintenance costs.

The board disagrees with the proposal to close the pool to save money. SARC is viable only when it includes its many aquatic activities and classes for all who attend as well as offering its full range of exercise opportunities with machines, weights, circuit room, zumba, yoga, racket ball, a basketball court/gymnasium and other amenities. It is the only public pool in the Sequim area and provides a venue for swimming lessons and the local swim teams as well as the above activities.

The board wishes to point out the following points neglected in the column.

Expenses have exceeded revenue at SARC for almost every year of its 26 years of operation. In fact, SARC was supported by levies over half of its 26 years of operation to offset operating losses, allow facility expansion/renovation and build up reserves. For example, between 2000-2007, expenses exceeded revenue by $1.4 million which was then supported by tax monies including the reserve fund. Not included was $75,000-$100,000 per year that should have been invested in deferred maintenance projects. The 1993-2002 levies generated $2.9 million. (Note: The present request has been carefully crafted to be the minimum amount necessary to address SARC’s needs without building up excessive reserves.)

Finally, the board would like the public to understand that SARC is not a business; the overall purpose of SARC is to serve as the aquatic and recreation center for eastern Clallam County. It is a 501(c)1 public entity and is a Clallam County Junior Taxing District. Its formal name is Clallam County Parks and Recreation District No. 1. Its primary objective is to provide much needed aquatic and recreation services for the community. It charges reasonable admission fees supplemented in part by taxpayer funds.

The board of commissioners and executive director are responsible for providing SARC’s services in the most efficient, cost-effective and economical manner possible. It is the public’s responsibility to provide required financial support (front door receipts, levy, etc.) if they consider SARC a desired and/or needed public service.

 

 

The Sequim Aquatic Recreation Center (SARC) Board of Commissioners: Frank Pickering, Sherry Nagel, Jan Richardson, Melinda Griffith and Gill Goodman.

 

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