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Neighborhood Pools Funding Plan Moves Forward

Efforts are moving ahead for the Outdoor Pools Committee to create Special Assessment Districts to support Dearborn's small pools.

Plans could come before residents as soon as this month, the city announced Thursday.

The Outdoor Pools Committee, Recreation Department and city officials met Thursday at to discuss a plan that they hope will secure the future of Dearborn's small pools by 2013.

The city hopes, through ballot questions, to establish SADs comprised of households surrounding the pools, which would be responsible for covering the capital improvements, operating costs and extra fees associated with each pool. SADs would, if approved by voters, cover the costs for 10 years for pools at , , and parks, as well as and , which were closed by the city in 2011 and will remained closed in 2012.

Plan Presented to Set SAD Boundaries, Costs

The Outdoor Pools Committee on Thursday outlined plans that estimated the costs to ugrade and maintain the pools, as well as which homes would fall within the proposed SADs.

Costs would come to an estimated $500,000 or $600,000 in capital improvements, depending on whether pools are simply repaired, or upgraded. Annual operating costs were estimated at $60,800 per pool.

The City Council would ultimately set the SAD boundaries, but the committee "wanted to at least provide a recommendation as to where these boundaries would lie," explained Recreation Department Director Greg Orner.

Recommendations place about 2,000-3,000 residential parcels with each SAD, with the exception of Lapeer, which has only 910 residential parcels.

"Would city consider covering operating costs for Lapeer?" Orner proposed. “To get them in the ballpark with the other neighborhood pools.”

The yearly per-parcel cost, based on the number of homes and the operation and repair costs, would be anywhere from $37.82 to $68.28, excluding Lapeer, which could be as much as $142.64 if the city will not cover operating costs.

Much of the cost also depends on how households are separated–by parcel, or by household. That decision still needs to be ironed out by the city.

SAD Rollout Begins in March

The Outdoor Pools Committee plans to begin community education for the SAD program this month, explained member and Dearborn resident Kristin Taylor.

First, the committee needs to get petition signatures to put the SAD issue on the ballot.

"Each district would be required to have 100-200 signatures," Taylor said. "(Save Our Pools) has been working with our network in the neighborhoods and we will have captains that will really be pushing this drive for the signatures."

The petition drive will begin as soon as March 15, with hopes to present the signatures to City Council by April 15 and to have the issue approved for the ballot that same month.

A vote by each SAD to approve local funding of the pools would likely happen in June, the committee said.

All the while, Taylor added, the group will be holding educational forums at the , at neighborhood association meetings, and at local schools. Additionally, information will be presented to residents through a variety of media platforms.

Details, Details

Much of how the SAD plan will be rolled out, as well as how it will affect pool improvements, will be determined by public support of the plan.

Residents within the SADs would enjoy free access to their neighborhood pool all season long. Details about non-SAD residents' access to pools, as well as SAD residents' access to other Dearborn pools, is still up for debate.

Additionally, efforts are being discussed to offset the overall costs to SAD residents–including neighborhood fundraiser, corporate sponsorship of pools, and the acceptance of donations through the Dearborn Community Fund.

“We should all be committed, if these pass, to do our best to keep the cost down," said SOP leader Ryan Woods.

But first, the committee has to convince the city to put the issue on the ballot–and residents to vote for it.

Dearborn City Council member David Bazzy cautioned the committee against making the issue too complicated.

“I think you’re going to have your hands full just trying to get them passed," he said. "We’ve already seen that there’s a propensity to push back on tax issues, especially when you don’t see a viable benefit to yourself.”

Frank Lee March 09, 2012 at 05:07 AM
This will fail. The mayor just spent 38,000 on a paper pusher to study camp Dearborn and he wants more money from taxpayers sorry SOP this will be an epic fail
Debbie Malyn March 09, 2012 at 12:11 PM
Absolutely not in favor of this plan. Why are only six of the pools included? ALL of the pools benefit ALL of the city. Why should only six neighborhoods have to pay for "their" pools? Ford Woods and Dunworth are exempt? Not equitable at all. That's problem #1. Problem #2, if tax dollars of the city as a whole cannot afford to support the pools, how is a partial neighborhood going to support the pools? Do you really think it is "only" going to cost a household $38-$68 a year to support what an entire city can't afford? I would bet the actual costs would end up much higher. I absolutely believe we should keep the pools open, but as a city, not on a case by case neighborhood special assessment basis.
Donna Hay March 09, 2012 at 12:23 PM
The SOP Committee should be very proud of what they have done for the city pools. If it hadn't have been for them I don't think any of the small pools would be open this year at all. They have put an unbelieveable number of hours in continuing the effort to save and bring back all the pools and I thank them for that. I am all for the SAD but only if every household pays the SAME amount each year for upkeep and keeping the pools open. Don't like the idea of one neighborhood paying $68 and the city covering the cost for another neighborhood.
Gus March 09, 2012 at 12:30 PM
The SAD should be combined to include all six pool the city wants to shut down. Spreading the cost to all the residents in the SAD. And free access to all pools the residents who are part of SAD. That will keep it simple and fair.
Trudy Hallahan March 09, 2012 at 12:50 PM
I think all household should pay, regardless of where the pools are located. My current tax dollars pay for the bigger pools, but the pool near my home is a smaller one, so you are going to ask me to continue to pay for someone elses pool and then pay for the smaller on in my neighborhood. You pay once, I pay twice..NO, again, make it fair.
Margaret Schaefer March 09, 2012 at 01:25 PM
I'm sure the City fathers will make sure the assessments are fair and equitable. The entire City enjoys having pools for the enjoyment of all of it's citizens.
Marianne Hasper March 09, 2012 at 04:00 PM
If residents are required to pay a special assessment for a pool in their neighborhood then they should be granted title to the pool and discretion to upgrade, or expand and to decide whether it is open to people who are not in the SAD. They should also be granted a tax break on the other pools - if they are paying for their own neighborhood pool they should not have to pay for the others except as a special fee for Dearborn residents on an as-used basis.
marooned in Dbn March 09, 2012 at 04:24 PM
Here we go again, another way to extract more money from the sad residents of a stricken city. My advice. 1. Throw out, by any means necessary, the power structure of this city. 2. If an ENTIRE CITY'S TAXES cannot support a few pools, trust me on this, YOU do NOT want special tax districts to support them. Trust me. 3. Hire a company with front-end loaders and FILL IN THESE POOLS instead. Go to CD, if you want to swim, or put a pool in your backyard.
Debbie Malyn March 09, 2012 at 09:09 PM
Agreed Donna. SOP has done an awesome job keeping the small pools open and I very much appreciate their work! I just don't think this particular idea makes sense or is a fair solution.
Debbie Malyn March 09, 2012 at 09:10 PM
Exactly.
POWDERBURNER March 10, 2012 at 03:54 PM
Another attempt to continue to rob us of our hard earned dollars by a mismanaged regime. And yes, the same entitlement mentality that voted in all the other money grubbing millages will support this too. It's bad enough that, in spite of a perfect record, I have to pay higher insurance rates because I live east of Southfield Rd., now I'm gonna' be taxed for living too close to a pool I'll never use??? If your brats are hot and stink, dunk 'em at the beach at Belle Isle. This city couldn't be more screwed up if obongo himself was ruining it.
Dearborn Taxpayer March 11, 2012 at 01:35 AM
I'm sure glad that my home isn't in one of these Pool SAD's. I voluntarily pay a membership fee to the swim club where I take my kids to swim. I sure don't want to have to pay for other folk's kids to swim.
Kristyn Taylor March 11, 2012 at 10:54 PM
The question of doing a city-wide SAD v. the individual SADs was one the sub-committee dealt with for a while. I agree with your concerns. To answer your question about the actual costs being higher, as proposed, the SAD includes a 15% contingency amount, in case of potential unexpected costs. However, as we understand it, the SAD approved cost per household is the ceiling that would be permitted to be assessed. Any fundraising efforts or revenue would drive down the SAD for that district. I hope I can help clarify! We will also hold meetings across the city in the next month to discuss these and other questions as well. Thanks for your input!
Kristyn Taylor March 11, 2012 at 10:59 PM
Thanks Donna, your input and efforts have been just as important in this process! I have a quick question - what do you mean by the city covering costs for another neighborhood? A SAD cost could differ by district because there are a different number of households in each district to divide the total cost by. Just wanted to clarify and see if I can help. Thank you!
Leslie March 12, 2012 at 03:42 PM
I think the idea proposed is that, if it passes, the residents who pay for the opration and upkeep of that pool do get to determine if others can use their pool and, if so, what the charge will be. All residents will still have access to Ford Woods and Levagood/Dunworth pools.
Leslie March 12, 2012 at 03:49 PM
Kristyn, I believe Donna was referring to Lapeer, and the suggestion that the City might help cover that SAD's operating costs “To get them in the ballpark with the other neighborhood pools.” This article notes "The yearly per-parcel cost, based on the number of homes and the operation and repair costs, would be anywhere from $37.82 to $68.28, excluding Lapeer, which could be as much as $142.64 if the city will not cover operating costs." Thanks for all your hard work on SOP, Kristen!
cheryl March 12, 2012 at 08:15 PM
If you're a Dearborn Taxpayer, which I assume you are by your moniker, then you already do. Everyone will continue to pay for Dunworth and Ford Woods. It's just the smaller pools that need an additional subsidy.
cheryl March 12, 2012 at 08:20 PM
I don't have an issue with the SAD, in general. I'm sure the residents who use the Dunworth or Ford Woods pools sometimes feel like there are too many people there...it's not a true "neighborhood" pool. That being said, I have grave doubts about this city administration's ability to handle a SAD. I anticipate much "lost" SAD funding, diversion of funds into the mayor's pet projects (which are clearly NOT the pools) or worse. I just have no faith that these folks can handle additional tasks. Most of them are already over their heads, as evidenced by the need to hire Plante and Moran anytime some strategic thinking needs to take place.
Kristyn Taylor March 13, 2012 at 12:58 AM
To answer a few of your questions and probably end up raising more, I posted on my blog today my thoughts about the pools. Please take a look and share your thoughts: http://kristyn4council.wordpress.com/2012/03/12/the-dearborn-pool-dilemma/
Helena Thornton March 16, 2012 at 01:28 PM
There is much misinformation spreading. The original intent of the neighborhood pools is for maintaining or improving property value and the SAD is not legal without that premise. Further, for it to be legal, it is constrained by a district for each pool within a mile radius of each. Other constraints include main thoroughfares which young children shouldn't be crossing alone. In light of all the constraints this was handled the most diplomatic way possible with a highest level of concern for fairness for all the residents. Even if a property owner votes "no," if a SAD passes, they will have full access to the pool during its operating hours of for the length of the SAD. Everyone will want to use the pools because they will be renovated and new. The annual SAD costs are significantly less ( an estimated 32% to 58% less) than a family tag ($100) which will have to be purchased to use Dunworth or Ford Woods regardless. This SAD is like getting a tax deduction for your pool tag which the neighborhoods without a SAD will not have! No one can deduct the $100 pool tag. The SAD costs are within approximately $25 of each other for each district. Helena Thornton, SOP committee member.
Phil McCheese March 16, 2012 at 01:59 PM
OK, start by eliminating FREE DEARBORN POOL TAGS (Entire Family) for all City of Dearborn workers, even if they live outside of the City!!!! Baby steps 1st. Then, we'll talk.
Leslie March 18, 2012 at 05:40 PM
Just to clarify, Helena. What you are noting is that since the SAD payment would be added to property taxes, it can be written off of Federal taxes, right? So, in a sense, that family's access to the pool is tax deductible. Currently, individual or family pool tags are not tax deductible. Good point!
Leslie March 18, 2012 at 05:44 PM
Part time City employees are NOT given pool tags as a benefit of employment (and many of the City's employees are part time.) I do not know the situation regarding full time employees and pool tags.
Kara June 04, 2012 at 05:35 PM
Just a thought, but what about lowering the cost of pool tags a little at least for let's say the city of Dearborn Heights...making them a bit more reasonable and a lot more people would probably buy them creating more income. This is not to replace the above idea, but to compliment it. It is the city closest to Dearborn and even has 'Dearborn' in it's name. Just a thought. $80 a tag is kind of crazy.
cmg June 04, 2012 at 06:31 PM
How about we just let Dearborn residents use the pool. Then it won't be overcrowded so that we have to go somewhere else. We used to regularly go to Dunworth, but the amount of people got ridiculous, you couldn't get a chair. All of a suddent there were all the unreasonable rules, it wasn't even fun anymore. And we went for 6 years. So we put a pool in our yard. It's crazy. I think one of the reason the tags are so much is that you have people misusing them, I think they raised the price so that people would stop abusing it and of course help offset the upkeep of the pools. I've seen people stick the tags thru the fence so others can get in.
Kara June 05, 2012 at 06:30 PM
I hear what you are saying. I thought of the Dearborn Heights idea because last year there just didn't seem to be that many people at the Dunworth pool when we went. It looked like they need more people coming to be able to cover the costs of the pool. They won't get many when the price of non-Dearborn residents is $80.00.

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