Recognition deserved

Published 2:53 pm Thursday, January 19, 2017

It’s not unusual for a government project to end up costing more than planned or budgeted, but when a government project comes in at less than a third of the initial cost estimate, that’s something to celebrate and recognize.

That’s exactly what the Washington City Council did earlier this month. Kristi Roberson, director of parks and recreation for Washington, received praise from the City Council last week for her efforts to save the city money in repairing the dehumidifier at the Hildred T. Moore Aquatic & Fitness Center and with the Save the Pool campaign.

As for saving the city money, Roberson’s attention to the dehumidifier project resulted in the initial $300,000 estimate to replace the unit drop to about half that estimate, then fall to $91,942 to rebuild the dehumidifier. In September, the council approved a $153,007 purchase order for Thermal Resources Sales to replace the dehumidifier, which has experienced problems in recent years.

A year ago, that initial estimate, combined with the pool operating at a deficit, had the council considering closing the pool. That possibility resulted in the Save the Pool campaign, an effort between the city and pool supporters.

Roberson, by working with Thermal Resources Sales, saved the city more than $200,000. Under a previous funding agreement, the city allocated $76,504 toward the $153,007, with the Save the Pool campaign tasked with raising $76,503. Currently, the city has appropriated $41,099 from its fund balance for the project, with the Save the Pool campaign having raised $50,843, including a $20,000 pledge, for a total of $91,942, according to a city document.

“I commend the staff for reducing — because we started out a year ago this was a $300,000 project, and now it’s less than $100,000. So, y’all have done a lot of work to do that,” Councilman Doug Mercer said.

Councilman Larry Beeman said, “I would like to say thanks to Kristi.” Councilman Richard Brooks said Roberson’s efforts with the pool, along with other city staff, is a good example of the city hiring good employees “working for the city to get things done.”

Mercer made a motion for the council “to go on record in thanking Kristi and her staff and the volunteers for raising the funds they raised on this project.”

Mayor Mac Hodges said, “I think that was an excellent job. I know you run 20 different programs to do this, Kristi. You stepped forward. What we thought two years ago was going to be $300,000-plus is now $41,000.”

Roberson’s efforts for the pool are commendable, and so is the City Council’s recognition of those efforts.