▶️ Permanent Madras pool closure ‘on the table’ as new levy drafted

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The Madras Aquatic Center and Recreation District (MACRD) has been drowning in financial problems from operating and staffing costs to basic maintenance

“We’re in a dire situation, and I think the community knows that,” said MACRD treasurer Jean McCloskey. “The MACRD district has been operating on a shoestring for 15 years or more.”

The aquatic center has now reached a sink-or-swim point, cutting staff, hours and pay. Add maintenance costs to that and a permanent closure has become a real possibility.

“It’s an option that has to be on the table,” McCloskey said. “Unfortunately.”

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The pool has had ten executive directors in its 15 years, including one who was charged with first-degree theft and other financial charges.

“We’ve worked really hard to create really good systems so that there is no possibility of fraud or other types of issues that our district has had experience with in the past,” said Executive Director Courtney Snead. “We’ve had three years of clean audits for the first time in our history, and we’re really proud of that.”

Now, the board is drafting a measure to put on the May ballot. That measure would replace the current revenue sources, including two property tax levies, with a single levy. If approved, the new levy could raise $1.6 million a year.

“The idea is can we combine those three rates and be somewhere close to what we need to operate based on a performer that we had done, a business plan that a consultant developed for us,” Snead said.

The board presented the plan to the community on Thursday, saying the new levy will allow them to stay open longer and return to proper staffing.

“From the public in our community, we were told we need more access at a lower rate, and we want you guys around,” said MACRD Board Chair Deanna Seibold. “So this is what’s going to allow us to do that.”

Ideally, fees for the pool will remain the same and recreation program fees could be reduced.

Despite the financial struggles, MACRD continues to try and plan for the future, recently drafting a business plan that aims to add a fitness studio, gym and other amenities.

MACRD approved a 10-year master plan in November. This plan is the foundation for the district and provides a roadmap for the next 10 years.

The board reiterated that its goal is to keep the measure tax neutral and will be receiving for financial analysis on the matter in the upcoming days.

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