Plans to set up special assessment districts to help offset operating costs for Dearborn’s six neighborhood pools have been put on hold, the Save Our Pools group announced Monday.
In a memo given to city officials, the group said that, “residents feel there are too many questions and not enough answers” to move forward with a ballot proposal on the issue at this time.
The Outdoor Pools Committee had hoped, through ballot questions, , 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.
Petition signatures from residents in each proposed SAD area were set to be turned in by April 30; SOP, however, said that they will not be turning in the majority of the signatures “until Dearborn residents get those answers.”
Specifically, SOP said they have concerns about the actual cost to residents, as well as the city’s ability to continue to fund the small pools.
All future capital improvement and operational costs for the pools are, at this point, estimates. Costs are estimated at $500,000 or $600,000 in capital improvements, while annual operating costs were estimated at $60,800 per pool.
But the exact amount residents would be required to fund through an SAD cannot be determined until the city has bid out the work–something that was not proposed to happen until much later in the process.
Additionally, SOP questioned the city’s continued stance that they cannot afford to fund the pools.
Budget documents for fiscal years 2013 and beyond detail the city’s capital improvement plans. Among them is construction of an "aquatic facility” at . The cost is estimated at $4 million, which the city hopes to fund through bonds.
The city has maintained throughout the pools discussion that it would fully fund any upgrades to the pools at and Ford Woods parks.
But costs of that magnitude, SOP said, left supporters of the city’s pools questioning why residents should bear the burden of operating costs for the other six pools.
“Many other questions have been raised as it relates to the control a SAD would have over its own pool operation hours, the fairness of the tag structure, the potential for a city-wide vote, and whether this vote is even necessary when the money is being planned in the budget,” the group wrote in their statement to the city. “Throughout this process, SOP has had to respond to residents’ questions on these issues and others with ‘we really aren’t sure.’ Residents are asking that their questions be answered before they sign the required petitions.”
SOP reiterated that it is still committed to working with the city on keeping Dearborn’s neighborhood pools open. However, they said they felt it was too soon to take the issue to the ballot.