Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Municipal Business Skills

In a city full of lakes, Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz pushes the building of a $5 Million dollar swimming pool through city council and to construction. To their credit, the council passes an ordinance requiring the pool to operate on its own revenues. Well, they missed that target to the tune of $140,000 their first year of operation. This season, in an attempt to reach solvency, the Parks District makes adjustments to their “business plan” including closing the store if there are less than 50 customers.

Red ink affects pool hours: Griswold said the closing policy is new this year after the pool posted a $140,000 operating loss in its first year. The pool didn't have the policy a year ago, because "last year we didn't know how much money we were losing." … Donald Studesville, in the Parks Division's administrative services office, said financial numbers for the first half of the pool's season came in Tuesday. He said he hadn't had time to look closely at them.” It seems like we're on target, maybe a little behind target."

WISC on air reports that “a little behind target” is around $70,000 in the red mid-year.

Financial Future Of Goodman Pool Uncertain: one parks official said that if a midseason report doesn't show the facility breaking even, admission and concession prices next year would likely have to go up. Meanwhile, another parks manager said kicking city dollars into a pool that does so much for so many might not be such a bad thing.

On camera, Mayor Dave smiles and says that maybe annual tax subsidies for the pool should be brought back as an option. After all, outside of the public beaches, school system and private pools where else are people going to swim. I point this out because this administration that can’t profitably run a $5 Million dollar fixed site facility is the same one wanting to construct a trolley system at $12 Million dollars per mile, to link with a light rail system costing $50 - $100 Million dollars per mile. The same people telling us that ridership will cover all the operating costs.