The ‘New’ News of PAC 2018
The new year brought a lot of new to the Pinedale Aquatic Center… a new director, a first in PAC’s history, followed by a new leadership team in the recreation department to fill the vacated positions from the director changeover, and in the midst of the transition, a new topic of conversation… should the PAC be absorbed by Sublette County School District #1?
To understand the initiation of this conversation, it is important to acknowledge PAC’s history. PAC was originally built by Sublette County School District #1, on school district property, to replace the old school pool. A Joint Powers Board was created to oversee the governance of the center with five appointed members; three school district, one county, and one town. A recreation mil was levied by SCSD#1 to fund PAC operations; no other monetary commitments were requested from the town or county. A lease agreement between SCSD#1 and PAC outlined facility obligations and use priorities along with a set annual rental rate to be secured for future asset preservation.
With these parameters established, PAC has operated as its own organization separate from the school district, town, or county. PAC employees are employees of the Pinedale Aquatic Center, governed by the Joint Powers Board, and funded through the SCSD#1 Rec Mil with a small portion attained from membership/program fees.
The problem… decreased oil and natural gas activity = lower mil levy values. For perspective, in 2013, the Rec Mil produced just over $3.8 million, PAC was allocated $3 million. - In 2017, the Rec Mil valued around $1.8 million, PAC was allocated $2 million. With a current operating budget (FY 2017-2018) of just over $2.4 million, following a $1 million budget reduction in fiscal year 2016-2017, the need for further planning for the sustainability of PAC and balancing PAC and Rec Mil budgets became priority. So came the question, should the PAC be absorbed by SCSD#1?
The findings… absorbing the PAC by SCSD#1 did not provide the financial savings originally anticipated. The evaluating committee thoroughly reviewed all options and the impacts of each on current program offerings, hours of public availability, and future growth potential. The decision was made to leave the joint powers board as is, with a few adjustments to the joint powers agreement, to give PAC the opportunity to explore alternative funding and revenue options for securing PAC’s long term success.
The results… new protocol was established for the allocation of rec mil funds to ensure asset preservation as well as PAC funding. In the original lease agreement between SCSD#1 and PAC, an annual rent amount of $600,000 was to be paid to SCSD#1 and preserved for future building preservation. Over the past couple of years, rent forgiveness was granted as PAC worked to reduce its overall budget. In efforts to ensure that future major maintenance, repair or replacement of the PAC will be possible, the preservation money will now, in accordance with the amended lease agreement, be set aside directly from the rec mil in an annual amount between $600K-$750K. This will remove rent from the PAC’s budget. However this will also reduce the amount of rec mil funds available for PAC funding. As an example, if the rec mil produces $1.8 million, $600,000 will be set aside directly for asset preservation and $1.1 million be allocated to PAC, with the remainder being allocated to other projects funded from this account. In addition, all reserve funds accumulated over the past 10 years, with exception of $400,000 are to be transferred back to the school and secured in the asset preservation fund, approximately $7.5 million.
Under the newly adopted allocation method, PAC is anticipating receiving between $1.1-$1.3 million from the rec mil. After adding our internal revenue, approximately $300,000, PAC will be left with a projected deficit of $200,000-$400,000 even after reducing the budget to under $1.8 million (a near $300K reduction from FY 2017-2018). As a result, PAC has been provided the opportunity to pursue additional funding and revenue options for long term funding security.
What now… overall, we see this unprecedented position as an unique and new opportunity. A second opportunity to define PAC and recreation in the county. We know the strengths of PAC, the value it brings to the county, and now is our chance to rally together to capitalize on it further. With the formation of new partnerships, we envision opportunities to strengthen and improve recreational opportunities in the community and the county.
Our immediate goal is to sustain PAC operations and services that the community has come to love and expect while further developing PAC and recreation in our community. We are working hard on our current budget to minimize reductions to public access hours or elimination of programs, while tightening the purse strings to find that sustainable budget that allows for continued operations. A task force has been developed to brainstorm opportunities, develop a short and long term action plan, and initiate the attainment of additional funds. We are in the process of establishing a “Friends of PAC” 501(c)3 non-profit that will be governed independently by a volunteer board and able to fundraise, accept donations, and apply for grants on behalf of PAC. We will be focusing advertising to attract out-of-county visitors and capitalize on the tourism industry. Conversations with the town and county about the development of partnerships are in the near future.
The question we want to be asked now… what can you do? Watch for our press releases, status of PAC report, and annual report (coming this fall). Come visit, and use, PAC. Participate in our patron survey (coming in early May). Ask questions, let us know what you love most about PAC, and share your ideas. Share PAC with others and engage in the conversation about recreation in the community. PAC has become a staple of Pinedale, a place this community can’t imagine living without. We’ll be asking for your input in the coming months. We invite you to join the conversation about where we go from here.