Listen to this article

PAXTON — Paxton Park District Recreation Director Neal McKenry said the public swimming pool at Coady Park finished the 2019 season with $16,700 in losses, but that was less than what was anticipated.  

“When forecasting for our annual budget, we prepared for a loss of closer to $23,000,” McKenry said after reporting the news to the district’s board of commissioners on Nov. 12. “So while the deficit is still not good, it’s a lot better than in past years and will make things a little easier to manage for the 2020 pool season.”  

The board is planning to set the 2020 pool schedule at its Dec. 10 meeting.

“Initial discussions between myself, the board and a few members of the Save the Paxton Pool (fundraising) committee have us all seemingly in agreement in terms of what we’re looking for schedule-wise next season,” McKenry said.

McKenry said the board is looking to do something similar to last year, when the pool was scheduled to be closed during the day on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays unless free admission on a specific day was sponsored by a local business, group, organization or individual.  The pool was open each Tuesday and Thursday from 6 to 9 p.m.

“Much more often than not, we got these days sponsored and were not closed,” McKenry said. “The business-sponsored days went over very well, where we got to the point that the public was receiving free admission on more days during the week than not. However, this could potentially alienate season-pass holders, who we do not want to lose.  We will be looking to re-evaluate the business-sponsored days and possibly only offer them on weekends and evenings, while keeping the pool open every day during the week Monday through Friday.”

Opening day may be pushed back a full week next year from the traditonal Memorial Day weekend opening due to Paxton-Buckley-Loda schools being in session until June 4 or even later.

While not discussed at the Nov. 12 meeting, McKenry said the board is hopeful to set the 2020 pool rates and schedule next month.

Last year, daily admission was set at $3 per person, while daytime pool passes — for admission to the pool in the daytime on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays all summer — cost $35. Nighttime pool passes — for admission to the pool at nighttime on Tuesdays and Thursdays all summer — cost $25.

“Personally, I do not see daily admission or pool pass rates increasing in price,” McKenry said.

$100,000 bond

Also at the Nov. 12 meeting, the board agreed to obtain a $100,000 general obligation bond, something the board did every year between 2013 and 2017. In 2018, the board did not request any additional bonds.  

The bond can only go toward capital-improvement projects related to buildings, grounds and equipment, McKenry said.  

A good chunk of the bond money, McKenry said, will, “for sure,” be going toward some “much-needed updates” to the pool’s bathhouse, shed and mechanical room.

“Some of it will be aesthetic, such as re-siding the pool shed,” McKenry said. “Some of it will be maintenance-related, such as redoing the filter pit and fixing the main pool pump. Just to be clear, this general obligation bond cannot go toward normal, day-to-day operations at the pool or anywhere else.”

Meanwhile, the park district’s attorney, Marc Miller of Champaign, distributed an ordinance authorizing the levying of property taxes on behalf of the district for the fiscal year beginning Feb. 1, 2020, and ending Jan. 31, 2021. The tax levy projects $104,530 in taxes to be collected next summer, excluding the $100,000 general obligation bond.

Taxpayers will pay less in park district taxes next summer, McKenry said, since the levy does not include the payoff of last year’s bond, as there was none.  

Bus trip to Blackhawks game

Also at the meeting, Angie Russell suggested the park district organize a bus trip to a Chicago Blackhawks hockey game this season.

The board was receptive to the idea, according to McKenry, who is in the process of zeroing-in on a potential game date and price point after talks with ticket and bus representatives.

“If everything works out, anyone will have the opportunity to sign up, at a cost, to attend,” McKenry said.    

Other business

Also at the meeting:

➜ The board discussed the possibility of hiring Feller & Kuester CPAs LCC of Champaign to conduct a financial audit for 2019. The board plans to approve pursuing the audit once the scope of work and cost details are provided by the firm. “We haven’t had one done in several years, and we’d just like to be as transparent as possible,” McKenry said.

➜ The park district’s annual Breakfast with Santa event was scheduled for 8 to 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 14, at the Paxton Civic Center, 601 S. Fall St. A free breakfast will be served by board members, and Santa will be in attendance to take photos with children.