Aquatic center reports ’10 shortfall of $78,000

Staff report

Crestwood Aquatic Center revenues fell short of meeting expenditures by nearly $78,000 during the 2010 season, according to a report given last week to the Board of Aldermen.

The aquatic center last season generated $283,678 in revenue and $361,504.72 in expenditures, resulting in an overall loss of $77,826.73, according to the report, which was prepared by Recreation Manager Todd Stover.

Revenues fell short of expenditures by $42,093 during the 2009 season. Stover attributed the increased loss in 2010 in part to the poor economy and the opening of a new aquatic center in Sunset Hills.

Stover reported overall attendance at the center increased to 37,386 in 2010 from 32,291 in 2009. However, total attendance was still down from the 2007 and 2008 seasons, when it was 48,276 and 44,166, respectively.

Non-resident revenue decreased both in daily admissions — from $56,565 to $53,132 — and pass sales — from $91,898 to $78,982.

The center lost $3,707 in revenue from discontinuing a special arrangement with Sunset Hills to allow its residents to use the facility.

The 2010 season deficit also stemmed from a one-time expenditure of $36,215 to bring the aquatic center into compliance with the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Act.

The city had to replace all 17 drain covers and repair seven sumps at the pool to bring the facility into compliance with the law, which aims to eliminate drownings caused by drain suction.

Crestwood contracted with Westport Pools for the work, for which the city had budgeted only $10,000.

Stover noted aquatic center hours were changed in 2010, at residents’ request, to keep the facility open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays — besides regular hours on weekends and holidays — while Lindbergh Schools was in session.

However, he said the center only generated an average of $51.50 in daily fees on the expanded schedule while the cost to operate the facility was roughly $550 per day.

“I know some of our residents really liked to be able to use the pool during the times Lindbergh was in session, but I don’t know that it’s the best plan for the city to maintain that,” Stover told the board. “We will be looking closely at that in the coming year to see if there’s a better way to do things.”

Stover estimates the aquatic center will operate at a loss of $50,000 in 2011 with good weather and no major maintenance issues.

“Over the course of the summer, staff will look into ways to improve operations and cut expenditures to reduce the loss,” he wrote in his report to the board. “It should be noted that, with current market conditions, it is not likely that the loss can be substantially reduced without making major changes in how the facility is operated such as opening the aquatic center to the entire metropolitan area.”