Pool, fund transfers discussed at session

Published 6:08 pm Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Washington’s City Council began its detailed review of the proposed city budget for the upcoming fiscal year, making some modifications.

That review followed the conclusion of the council’s regular meeting Monday. The council was scheduled for four budget sessions this week, ending Thursday. It’s possible the council could conclude those sessions tonight. The proposed budget, including any changes to it, does not become official until the council adopts a final budget, likely to occur in late May.

City Manager Bobby Roberson’s proposed budget, submitted to the council April 11, does not include $300,000 to replace the chlorination unit at the city pool. There has been discussion about replacing the unit and locating it elsewhere at the Hildred T. Moore Aquatic Center. Currently, that unit is located in the attic of the center, making it difficult to maintain.

During the budget session Monday, Councilman Richard Brooks asked if the $300,000 for replacing the unit was in the proposed budget. “That’s not in the budget,” Roberson replied, adding that city staff is prepared to including replacing the unit in the upcoming budget is so directed by the council.

“Council needs to make a decision about the future of the pool. … We’ll do whatever the council instructs us to do,” Roberson said.

During budget sessions last year, the council discussed the pool, including possibly closing it. The pool costs the city more to operate than the revenue it produces for the city. Pool critics say taxpayers should not subsidize a facility that loses money and is not used by most city residents. Pool supporters say the pool provides health benefits to those who use it and provides a place for local swim teams to compete.

The council made no decision regarding the pool Monday night.

During another discussion, Councilman Doug Mercer questioned the proposed budget’s transference of revenue from enterprise funds (water, sewer, electric, airport and the like) to the city’s economic-development fund. “You’re already taking money out of those funds, and here you’re talking another $200,000 that you’re taking out of your enterprise funds when in your enterprise funds you’re talking about raising rates to make them balance. That, to me, doesn’t make sense — to take money out and have to raise rates,” Mercer said.

Roberson replied, “Well, that’s one way to balance the budget. Here again, that’s a philosophical issue that the council has to determine in order for us to go in whichever direction you want to go.”

Roberson said moving revenues from the enterprise funds to the economic-development fund provide more flexibility than depending on tax-generate revenue in the general fund to pay for economic-development activities.

Today’s budget session begins at 5:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers at the Municipal Building. For additional coverage of the budget sessions, see future editions of the Washington Daily News.



About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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