Friday, June 19, 2009

Budget Issue -- Carver Pool

Some constituents have expressed concern about the reinstatement of $90k for Carver Pool into the city budget, and my perceived lack of opposition to it. I have worked hard to support staff's recommendation to close the pool. Here's the whole story:

A non-binding budget work session vote was taken on May 12, 2009 as follows:

"Commissioner Gurr moved to reestablish the $90,000 for the Carver Pool, seconded by Commissioner Howard; the motion carried 4-2 with Mayor Adams and Commissioner Langstaff voting no."

During that May 12 work session I had listened to the arguments for reinstating the funding for Carver Pool. It was necessary for me to obtain additional documentation on the issue from city staff in order to respond to my fellow commissioners' concerns. Once I got that documentation and had it forwarded to the entire commission, I presented the following written argument to the Mayor and each of the Commissioners:

"Mayor and Commissioners and Staff,

Budget cuts are always tough. To me, the Carver pool budget cut seems to be one of those rare opportunities to utilize existing community resources to make a cut without completely cutting the service. I want our kids to stay busy in the summer. I want all of our children to learn to swim. I think those are very worthwhile goals. However, if we can save $90k and still meet those goals, I think we ought to give it a shot. Sure, for some it would be easier to walk to Carver to swim than ride a bus. However, we don’t have detailed enough data to know how many kids are catching rides to the Carver pool in the first place. This new system might actually be MORE convenient for the majority of the kids participating. I think it is worth trying this for a year to see how it works out. An added benefit would be introducing kids to the Boys & Girls Club who might otherwise not have given it a chance. It seems like a win-win to me.

Bob Langstaff, Jr."

Here is the data which was provided by city staff, and
sent to all commissioners which supports the closure of Carver Pool:

"Per your request, below is a brief summary on what Recreation and Parks would do if Carver Pool closes:

* The Boys & Girls Club has offered to accommodate those individuals who would be displaced if Carver Pool is closed.

* The Boys and Girls Club have agreed to work with ARPD to accommodate youth participants who attend the ARPD Summer Program from 1 to 4 pm daily.

* The Boys & Girls Club charges $0.50 per participant to attend the open swim period, but has offered to waive this fee for ARPD participants.

* Per Mr. Bob Hutchinson, the Boys & Girls Club is willing to use their 55 passenger bus to assist the Recreation and Parks with transport of participants to their facility daily(Monday - Friday) for swimming.

* The Boys and Girls Club are also willing to include ARPD participants in their morning Learn to Swim Classes at no charge. The Learn to Swim Classes are offered from 9am until noon and are age group specific.

* Recreation and Parks have two 15 passenger vans to transport participants to the Boys and Girls Club. Based on utilizing both City of Albany Recreation & Parks 15 passenger vans and ARPD full-time staff to drive the vans, the estimated cost to transport participants to the Boys & Girls Club for swimming would be 40 miles per day (using an average of 10 miles from each facility) for both vans. For a total of 13 weeks the total mileage would be 2600 miles driven to transport youth from ARPD facilities to the Boys & Girls Club for swimming. Each ARPD facility would have a designated day for swimming. Based on the IRS mileage reimbursement rate – the cost to transport ARPD program participant to alternate swimming sites would be approximately $1300 - $1500.

*****The following is a synopsis on the cost effectiveness of operations at the Carver Pool. Since attendance records were not kept, attendance averages were derived through analysis of revenues received and meetings with pool management staff for the summers of 2007 & 2008.Based on the following data the estimated cost to operate Carver Pool on a per participant basis, (not including full-time salaries which total $31,564) has ranged from $27 to over $60 per participant.

Budget Year
Actual Expenses
Estimated # of Participants
Average cost per participant






Here is a sampling of the arguments presented by some of my fellow commissioners at the May 12 budget work session with respect to the Carver Pool (as presented in the draft work session paraphrased minutes):

"Mayor Pro Tem Hubbard stated that she has received calls on the Carver Pool and asked how much would be saved by closing it. Mr. Lott explained that closing the pool will save $95,000. Mayor Pro Tem Hubbard stated that even though it is not in her ward, she supports keeping it in the budget. She expressed concerns about recreation especially charging membership fees and asked if it has been determined how much will be generated as a result of the membership. Darryl Smith, Asst. Rec. Director, stated that over $100,000 would be generated. Mayor Pro Tem Hubbard asked how the $10.00 charge was determined. Ms. Davis stated that the cost will be for the cards. Mayor Pro Tem Hubbard asked if consideration was given as to how the public can afford it and if usage will increase/decrease. Ms. Davis stated that the safety issue was looked at, i.e., keeping up with the students and their safety and security. She explained that during the summer, kids walk in and sign themselves in – they do not have adult supervision. Mayor Pro Tem Hubbard said this was also a concern to her; however, the health issue is of far greater concern. Mayor Adams mentioned the financial burden on a family of five wanting to enjoy the activities and taking into consideration our area being the 2nd poorest district in Georgia. He mentioned providing free recreation for kids in the summer, as they will turn to other undesirable activities. He asked if there is a system in place for those not able to afford the membership. Mr. Lott asked if this was plugged into the budget. Ms. Davis said it is in the revenue side. Mayor Pro Tem Hubbard asked how this will be eased in and if thought was given on phasing in to notify the public about the cost. Ms. Davis stated that the numbers are based on January 1 and they will not implement until January 1, which will give them time to notify the public."

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Welcome. This is my first time blogging.

The primary purpose of this blog is to explain in greater detail my current position on various issues as the City Commissioner serving Ward 5 in Albany, Georgia. If you are curious where I stand on an issue or you want to understand why I voted a certain way, come here.

The secondary purpose of this blog is to improve my service to the citizens of Albany by obtaining your input. This cannot be a primary purpose because, let's face it, only a very small percentage of my constituents will ever see this blog. Who really has the time? I cannot base my political decisions SOLELY on the postings of the few folks who make their way here. This is a learning tool -- for you AND me.

Also, there is no way to limit comments on this blog to merely Ward 5 constituents. The entire world can see this. Anyone can leave a comment here...a curious kid in Iowa, a grad student in Berlin, or the most despicable person you have ever met in your life. Thus, as the site moderator, I will review comments before posting, and edit out inappropriate material.

My initial rule of thumb is that content needs to be acceptable for publication in The Albany Herald (excluding some of the adult ads in the sports section). My 8 year old reads the Herald sports section every day. Content here needs to be just as safe. I don't care if it puts him to sleep. I just don't want him exposed to any more nastiness and hatred than he already gets reading about professional athletes. The content of your comments should take into consideration that he might read it over my shoulder and that my dear mother may surf here from time to time.

I pledge to do my best to post comments constituting a fair balance of pros, cons, questions, and concerns.

Since I am new to blogging, I am going to need my wife’s help. She’s more familiar with Blogspot, so I am going to begin blogging here. I may eventually wind up moving this site to, but I will let you know if I do and all postings will be transferred over. Thanks for stopping by.