by Benjamin C. Nelson

(MACON, MO) On March 13th, 2019 The Macon County Home Press received a press release from the City of Macon regarding the current pool project. With analyzing the press release, it is the writer's judgment that the City of Macon is set to do more research with regards to the pool project and lowering costs, before moving forward.

The following is the press release in full:

"The City of Macon Parks and Recreation Committee held a meeting on February 27, 2019 at 5:30pm with the initiative of discussing the pool project previously proposed by the City of Macon. Members of the Committee were all present which includes Jerold Carr, Jerry Thompson, Taylor Wesley, and Tony Petre.

The Committee discussed a few areas of concern with the proposed project. First, the costs of the current pool design total $3,672,926. The concern is that the price tag of this project may be too high. It is not only the initial outlay of funds but also the operation and maintenance of a project that large that concerns the Committee. Resources are limited for The City of Macon and priority-based budgeting is a necessity. The current plan proposed project funding of $3 Million dollars in Certificates of Participation with a term of 20 years and interest payments of nearly $1.5 Million dollars. This proposed plan would spend nearly all of the annual revenue in the Park Tax Fund on payments. To be fiscally responsible, we want to ensure that the City does not outgrow our existing infrastructure and has funding available when needed for repairs and replacement items in our other park and recreation facilities. Many expensive portions of the pool project have an estimated useful life of only ten years. This means that the City of Macon would need funds for capital repairs while payments were still being made on the initial asset. Those funds simply would not be available during the term of repayment.

With concerns stated, the Committee decided it was time to consider solutions to these problems. The first area is to determine if there are ways to lower the project cost. This would likely be accomplished by looking at features and determining a cost/benefit analysis of each item. Examples to be researched are the initial cost and maintenance cost of each pool feature and how many lifeguards are required for each feature.

Solutions to the financing concerns seemed fairly straight forward to the Committee. One option proposed is to save enough funds to keep financing payments within the constraints of a ten-year term. Another solution is to continue saving until the project can be funded without financing, which will save the taxpayers all outlay of interest payments.

Solutions were presented to the Mayor and City Council at the March 12, 2018 monthly meeting. The Council agreed that we need to be fiscally responsible with taxpayer funds, so the City of Macon is ready to face anything that comes our direction, including a recession.

With this analysis, it was a priority to communicate the focus with the community. Our focus has been to save money received from the Park Tax Fund for a pool project. The balance to date is $1.8 Million which has been collected over the past four years. Of these funds, $1.12 Million is in Certificates of Deposits with an estimated interest revenue in 2019 of $23,000.

Pools are a value-added feature for a community for many reasons: serving as a gathering place for people of all ages; providing summer employment for citizens; offering an area for fitness (individually or through swimming lessons); and providing years of fond memories. However, pools are not a value-added feature for a community budget. The prior community pool for the final five years of operation ended with a net loss in the range of $53,000 to $82,000 annually. With this knowledge, The City of Macon must ensure they are financially able to commit to this long-term expenditure. The Parks & Recreation Committee, the City Council, and the Mayor are working hard for the future of Macon"