City hears aquatic center analysis

The Dallas Aquatic Center hosts events, including the kids triathlon.

Photo by Lukas Eggen
The Dallas Aquatic Center hosts events, including the kids triathlon.

DALLAS — The Dallas Aquatic Center has never been a money maker, but has, in general, made cost reductions and revenue growth since 2008, according to a city of Dallas analysis of the facility.

The study was prompted by a motion the council approved in May to look at options to eliminate or decrease the center’s dependence on the city’s general fund.

Revenue versus expenditure numbers have been as high at 60.4 (2014) percent and as low as 56 percent (2015).

Those percentages put the facility about average with similar year-round aquatic centers in the state, but Dallas Community Development Director Jason Locke warned not to read too much into those comparisons.

“You can look at all of these numbers and I think there are differences in the way these facilities operate,” he said.

Management structures and budgeting practices are among those differences. Locke said one example is the Astoria Aquatic Center, which doesn’t include maintenance costs in the facility’s budget or the cost of the park and rec director’s salary for overseeing the center.

The Dallas Aquatic Center’s budget accounts for both of those expenses and has a stand-alone fund, while Astoria’s center is included in a park and rec department.

Other centers in McMinnville, Woodburn and Forest Grove vary in age, size and program offerings, making comparisons complicated.

“It’s apples to apples, but its granny smith to McIntosh to red delicious, because everybody functions a little bit differently,” Locke said.

Through the analysis, Locke said he didn’t find any easy answers to increasing revenue or lowering costs when looking at how other centers operate.

The discussion set the table for city staff to make recommendations on how to close the Dallas center’s funding gap, a process that will be complete in September and brought to the city’s administration committee.

“I wanted to make sure everyone was on the same page,” he said.

Locke reviewed the aquatic center’s history from the beginning. Voters in Dallas passed a bond measure to build the facility in 1998, and, at the same time, voted “no” on an operating levy that would have supplemented the center’s revenue.

Locke estimated that would have generated about $300,000 to $350,000 per year. By comparison, the center will receive about $388,000 in general fund support this year.

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