Western City is constructing Uptown Skating and Aquatic Park (USAC), the areas first indoor ice skate rink and Olympic sized pool. The new facility was financed by a quarter cent voter approved citywide sales tax. Although the community and city staff was excited by the new addition to the region, the city’s budget department had its concerns about the facilities operating budget due to the uncertain nature of revenue projections and users fee that would be collected from the facility. The manager of the facility had pervious experience managing skate rinks, but trusted his staff for pool knowledge.
Before construction was complete, the manager his staff engaged potential with stakeholder groups to solidify that their preferences would be included into the facility when it opened. The Barracudas, a local competitive swim team consisting of 40 swimmers, was identified as a key stakeholder and large revenue source for the pool The leadership of the swim team emphasized the significance of inexpensive pool user fees as being a critical part of the teams ability to expand the teams membership. This communication appeared to well received by staff who indicated to the leadership of the swim team that fees would be similar with the rates of other public pools.
After the initial conversation between staff and the Barracudas leadership, communication began to break down. During a budget presentation by staff to the Recreation Board, Staff surprised the swim team when the made the recommendation to increase rates to $4.00 per lane hour. As a way to soften the blow to the swim team, staff offered to help the team secure private funding to off set the cost of the increase. Staff justified the increase by stating that the city was subsidizing the swim team and had been for the last few years. Staff argued that the fee increase represented the true cost of operating the pool.
Soon after the proposed fee increase, the Barracudas elected a new President that vowed to fight the fee increase before the Recreation advisory board. In response to this claim, staff defended their position by providing comparable the swim teams...