HLVRA ponders future funding possibilities

One local news source said the Honey Lake Valley Recreation Authority, the entity that operates the Honey Lake Valley Community Pool, faced a “funding crisis” as it considers how to fund the pool after the agreement between the city and the county to fund the pool expires in five years.

Many generations of Lassen County residents will remember Roosevelt Pool, closed for safety reasons and then demolished to make way for the new pool. File photos

Actually, everyone knew that funding eventuality loomed in the pool’s murky future — it was part of the deal from the very beginning. The city and the county each contributed more than $1 million in 2015 to build the pool, and both now contribute $80,000 each per year to fund the pool’s operation. That is not a forever commitment, and the end of the funding looms on the distant horizon.

Lassen County Administrative Officer Richard and Egan and former Roosevelt Pool Director Tony Jonas shake hands in the Susanville Supermarket parking lot in August 2013 celebrating the Pennies of the Pool donations and the proposal to have the city and the county finance the pool.

Former supervisor Jim Chapman and city councilmember Brian Wilson devised a plan in which both the city and the county would build and fund the pool — a project they and many in the community believed an important priority. Many families and children lamented nearly a decade and a half in which there was no pool in Susanville after Roosevelt Pool closed due to safety concerns.

Even the local children got involved, and they raised $10,000 through a “Pennies for the Pool” drive that went to fund additional items at the pool, not its construction or operation.

According to the original plan, “Before the end of the 15-year period, a successor agency, such as a recreation district, will assume responsibility for the operation of the facility.”

Pool construction in progress.

Board member Chris Gallagher, Lassen County’s District 1 Supervisor, asked that this item be placed on the agenda before the board, comprised of two representatives from the county board of supervisors, two representatives from the city council and a public representative.

According to the staff report from the board’s Tuesday, Oct. 17 meeting, “It is necessary to look toward the future and determine ways to fund the pool beyond the 2028/2029 year … Staff is seeking direction from the board on how to move forward with the long-term funding plans for the pool in order to maintain solvency. All ideas discussed with have to be brought to both the city council and the county supervisors to get approval prior to officially moving forward.”

A group of local dignitaries cut a ribbon to officially open the Honey Lake Valley Community Pool in June 2017.

The staff presented four potential ideas.

  • Keeping the original JPA agreement and extending the term limit for both the city and the county’s financial obligations.
  • Keeping the original JPA agreement and extend the term limit and amend the contribution amount for both the city’s and county’s financial obligations. This could potentially be based on a percentage of the budget to account for inflation.
  • Dissolve the JPA and the city takes over full operations of the pool.
  • Look toward creating a special district to fund the pool.

HLVRA Executive Officer Bob Godman told the board each of these ideas come with their own individual assets and liabilities.

He said creating a special district would be “heaviest lift” because it would also require a tax assessment approved by the voters.

In the end direction to staff included exploring grant opportunities, including the school districts in the JPA, use of contractor to “sample the voters” support of creating a special district (Godman said the HLVRA may have funding for that) and just asking the city and the county to continue their support.

“I think we’re going to have plenty of meetings before any decision is made,” Gallagher said. “I know this is a topic at least many youngers and their parents are concerned about.”