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Snohomish rejects initial plan to fund pool's utilities

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Alejandro Dominguez
Herald Writer
SNOHOMISH -- The city will not pay for the Aquatic Center's water and sewer service.
At least not for now.
After rejecting a proposed agreement in a 4-3 vote on Monday night, the Snohomish City Council asked staff to bring a second agreement with more information for a reconsideration.
Council members who voted against were Tom Hamilton, Dean Randall, Paul Kaftanski and Derrick Burke. Councilmembers Greg Guedel, Karen Guzak and Lynn Schilaty voted in favor.
The extra time will allow city staff to work with the district to figure out how much the city would pay and deal with insurance issues. And council members wanted an assurance that people in the city will have access to the pool.
It is unknown if all of these topics will be resolved by the next meeting on Feb. 7, city manager Larry Bauman said.
The Snohomish School District promised to build the Aquatic Center as part of a 2008 voter-approved bond. But the school district postponed construction of the pool because operating costs were higher than it expected and would exceed revenue by an estimated $450,000 a year.
The city was considering helping reduce the pool's operating costs by paying its the water and sewer service for 30 years. According to data provided by the district, Snohomish would pay an estimated $92,200 in 2013. The amount would increase every year until 2043 when Snohomish would pay $302,200.
According to these estimates, Snohomish would pay $5.6 million over the next three decades, support services director Danny Weinberg said.
Councilmembers in favor argued the pool would encourage development and would bring visitors to the city. For them, the benefits are worth the risk.
By building the pool within city limits, Snohomish would get $189,000 in construction sales tax revenue and about $13,700 a year on ticket sales tax revenue.
"Snohomish needs a catalyst for economic development," councilman Guedel said. "This is the project we were waiting for to change the downturn in our economy."
Councilmembers opposed said 30 years is too long to commit city taxes for a school-owned pool. Some wanted more concrete numbers before making a final decision. And they said the city faces other pressing issues such as the need to build a pipeline to Everett's sewage treatment plant.
"I don't know if (the pool) will be an economic powerhouse," councilman Randall said. "The city doesn't have the extra money."
The Snohomish School District is making changes to the pool's design to lower the costs of operating the 50,000-square-foot pool, which is planned at at the Maple Avenue Campus, on 601 Glen Ave. The district may consider moving the pool to another site or even outside of town if it can't find ways to lower the costs.
Alejandro Dominguez: 425-339-3422;

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