District56 Aquatic Center managers explain larger than budgeted operating losses to Elk Grove Mayor, city council

The city of Elk Grove's Aquatic Center manager Lana Yoshimura (left) and the CCSD's Mike Dobson make a presentation on the swimming facility that has operated at larger than budgeted deficits. |  

Elk Grove's District56 and Aquatic Center manager attempted to explain why the facility experienced larger-than-expected operating losses at last night's city council meeting.

Lana Yoshimura, the city's community event center manager, presented a laundry list of reasons why the facility did not meet expense and revenue budget goals. She also noted swimming facilities need subsidies to operate. 

"Aquatic centers are typically subsidized; they don't make the money that it needs to get complete cost recovery for," Ms. Yoshimura said. 

While noting the facility is five years old and besieged by maintenance issues, Yoshimura pointed to extenuating economic pressures for larger-than-expected operating deficiencies.

"I think one of our frustrations is that inflation and economic factors are weighing on the facility and causing some budget overruns that we are working to mitigate," she said.

After her opening comments, Mike Dobson of the Cosumnes Community Services District (CCSD) spoke to the mayor and city council to explain the facility's challenges further. Since its opening, the city has contracted with the CCSD to operate the facility.

Dobson noted the facility had numerous operational failures. He listed slide defects, electrical shortages, replacement of a bleacher stand, pump replacement, and deck and storage building lighting outages. 

"Many of the things we are dealing with now are long past our warranty," Dobson told the mayor and city council. 

Operationally, Dobson listed the challenges confounding the facility, including personnel issues, inflationary pressures, and revenue shortfalls. Dobson blamed staffing shortfalls in the summer of 2022 for unmet revenue targets. 

Although he did not discuss it, Dobson displayed a PowerPoint slide that showed the facility was off its expense budget by 44 percent (see image below).

During city council deliberations, Rod Brewer asked Dobson and Yoshimura if they had "a firm handle on their forecasting for attendance."

Responding to the question, Dobson did not provide a specific answer other than to say the trend indicates attendance will return to pre-pandemic levels in the summer of 2019.

"As long as it's warm in the summertime, people will come to use and utilize this, I think," Dobson said. 

During his commentary, Councilmember Kevin Spease said the Aquatic Center operation is a complex problem. 

"I think everybody out there, everybody in the room, every resident can sympathize with inflation," he said.  

Noting that revenue might be more challenging to forecast, Spease expressed concern that the general fund subsidy has grown. Spease asked for another report in 60 days analyzing the expected cost over the next three years. 

"If we fail to do that, then we are going to be in a little trouble," Spease said. "We have to at least ask the question; dig a little bit deeper."

Speaking on some of the maintenance costs, Spease noted replacing the grandstand in only five years seemed unusual. (see Spease's commentary in the video below).

Based on Spease's timeline, an updated analysis should be presented during the April 25 city council meeting. 

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Steve L said...

Interestingly, the Southgate Recreation and Park District pool on Waterman just south of EG, which opened approximately 6 mo prior to our Area 56 pool has met projections and not had the issues EG seems to be struggling with. Perhaps EG should hire Southgate to run their pool.

D.J. Blutarsky said...

Yes, swimming amenities are money-losers, but I doubt that the majority of homeowners now paying their annual tax assessment to help subsidize this facility have ever whipped out their Speedos to take a dip in the pool they all bought. I also doubt that the regional swim meets which were supposed to generate such a big economic development boost for the City have generated anything to speak of--or else the staff report would have boasted of this.

Every taxpayer has a breaking point. When they reach that point, some will vote with their feet and move out of the area, but others will vote with their ballots and that could spell trouble in the years ahead for the Elk Grove Monarchy!

Josie said...

In reading this it appears Management is being 'reactive instead of pro-active'. In simpler terms I look at it much as I would my home or car...maintenance schedule yearly before my car breaks down on the freeway or my heating/air conditioning goes out on hottest day of the year.

When this was being built I heard of nothing but problems with the construction and lawsuits and appears we may still be paying for those. So pay your Mello- Roos and get ready for another 1/2% increase next year.

Golden Skillet said...

If the Zoo fails and bankrupts the city, look to this article.

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