The Vashon Park District’s pool fared better than expected this season, operating at a $46,464 deficit rather than the $49,245 deficit forecast in the park district’s 2012 spending plan.
But Scott Bonney, the pool manager, said he doesn’t believe the deficit should be seen as a loss. Rather, he said, Islanders should see the pool as costing the community less than 5 percent of the park district’s $1 million in tax revenues this year.
“I feel good about it,” he said of this year’s financial report.
LuAnn Branch, a park commissioner and a champion of the pool, agreed. “This is the best year we’ve ever had, in terms of efficiency and the public getting the best value they could get for their tax dollars.”
Bonney, in a report to the park board last week, said the pool fared better this year than in previous years largely because of a strong community response. Revenue climbed 18 percent this year over last year, he said, due in part to the number of Islanders who bought season passes and punch cards. Other sources of revenue included pool rentals, which jumped more than 100 percent, and snacks and merchandise, which climbed 261 percent.
Bonney said warm weather in the latter part of the summer also helped. “But no management will succeed without strong community support,” he said.
But both Branch and Bonney said they’re still looking for ways to reduce the pool’s expenses next season. Bonney, for instance, said the district will need to study usage and possibly trim the hours the pool is open based on a utilization analysis. Currently, he said, the pool is open 14 hours a day.
“We have one of the most generous program offerings,” he told the board.
Vashon took on the pool in 2010, after King County said it would either gift the pool to the park district or close it. Park district officials said at the time they believed they could run the pool in a way that did not cost the taxpayers any money. Since then, park district officials say, they’ve learned that pools are expensive and almost always require tax dollar support.
Branch, in an interview after the meeting, said Bonney — with a background in business — has brought a lot of good ideas to the pool, making it an easier sell to the other commissioners, who sometimes question its expense.
“I have no question that we’ll have a pool next year,” she said. “But I’d like to think more long-term.”