Orange Township trustees are preparing for summer with a new pool management company and new prices for family season passes, special events and night swims at North Orange Aquatic Center.
For the past 10 years, Columbus Pool Management has maintained Orange Township's pools and staff. After allowing companies to bid for the contract, the board voted last month to work with a new company this summer.
Township leaders said they were pleased with Columbus Pool Management's work, but agreed to allow Hastings Water Works to manage the pools this summer. The company also works with other central Ohio pools such as New Albany.
The reason for the switch was strictly business-related, Trustee Debbie Taranto said. Hastings' contract is $10,000 less than Columbus Pool Management and the company offered more services, she said. The new pool contract is $185,000.
The board will save money with the new management company, but must find ways to recover from last year's loss. The previous year's unexpected utilities cost and decrease of 2013 season-pass sales meant the board needed to find ways to break even. This means an increase in some areas.
"We had significant gas increases, lower season and daily passes due to weather," Taranto said. "Our goal is to at least break even so that those who don't use the pool do not subsidize it."
Taranto added that if the township is able to lower other costs such as telephone and electric expenses, the board will lower the rates.
Family season passes increased $5 this year. A season pass for a family of two will cost $150; a family of three will cost $160; a family of four will cost $175; and a family of five will cost $185; and the fee for additional family members will be $15 instead of $10.
Special events and night swims will increase a dollar from $6 to $7 and $1 to $2, respectively.
Individual youth, adult and senior-citizen season passes remained the same as last year at $85, $90 and $65, respectively.
Trustee Rob Quigley said he was reluctant to raise prices. Quigley began an initiative in 2010 to make the pool self-sufficient. He said the goal is to keep the pool's operational costs minimal so those who don't use the pool are not paying taxes to operate it.
"The goal is not to make a lot of money," Quigley said. "I don't mind having additional funds cover some maintenance costs, but I would urge the board that if it gets to the point that we're making more money than we should on it, then I'll ask that we reduce it."
Trustees voted at their meeting Monday, March 3, to invest an additional $3 million from the township's general fund to government agency bonds for the next three years.
"We earned $3 million in government agency bonds and projected to earn more than $15 million sitting in surplus," said Fiscal Officer Joel Spitzer.
Spitzer added that potential earnings are more than $30,000 and hopes that earned interest can cover other township costs.
He suggested spreading out the investment during a four-year period to earn a higher yield, but due to recent levy failures and upcoming capital projects, the board agreed to play it safe.
If the township needed access to the funds, it would have to pay a 10 percent penalty.
Trustee Lisa Knapp said she wanted to invest during a three-year period instead of four because the township cannot always predict financial problems.
"This is the first time we're doing this," Knapp said. "I just think since it is the first time we're doing this, we should just be conservative."
Also at this week's meeting, trustees:
• Approved the parks and maintenance department to negotiate with Meyers + Associates Architecture to begin designing the township's community center. The center will be environmentally friendly and self-sustaining, officials said.
• Approved the 2014 road improvement program, which will resurface Green Meadows Drive from Orange to Powell roads. The township received a grant for about $232,772, which will go toward the $700,185 project cost.
• Approved Girl Scout Troop 2716 to pursue its Bronze Award project at Orange Township Hall. The troop will sell rain barrels with a downspout diverter and perform a workshop about the barrels. The workshop is set for 9:30 a.m. April 19.
The Orange Township board of trustees meets next at 7 p.m. March 17 at the township offices, 1680 E. Orange Road.