Outsourcing of Bexley pool operations under consideration

Chris Bournea
ThisWeek
City of Bexley

As the city of Bexley begins its 2021 budgeting process, the Recreation and Parks Department is exploring several ways to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic on revenue. 

Director Michael Price said one option under consideration is outsourcing the operation of the David H. Madison Community Pool. The department opted not to open the pool this year because of the estimated increased costs of safety protocols. An outside vendor may be able to identify operating efficiencies if the pool opens next year, he said. 

“We are constantly evaluating how we provide services – as we should – and if there’s ways to improve on how we provide service to the community, both in terms of service as well as cost,” Price said at the board’s Nov. 11 meeting. 

One reason to consider an outside vendor to assume operations would be to streamline hiring and retention of pool employees, Price said. 

“It’s become more and more difficult at the end of the summer in August to maintain full staffing levels,” he said. “That’s been an issue that we continue to try to work through. There may be potential on improvement with that with a company that focuses solely on this and has some economies of scale in terms of their hiring process.”   

Price said the department has prepared a request for proposals to solicit bids, but he added the option still is being evaluated and a decision has not been made to proceed.

“This is a matter of gaining another tool to evaluate, not necessarily that we are going to move in that direction,” he said. “I have by no means made any predetermined notions as to whether this is the route we want to go.” 

Price said neighboring municipalities such as Canal Winchester and Grandview Heights use outside vendors to operate their pools. 

“There seems to be a trend of more municipalities looking at this,” he said. “There are municipalities that are doing it and more and more seem to be evaluating it, if nothing else.” 

Recreation board Vice Chair Roger Carroll said the department should seek residents’ input before moving forward with hiring an outside vendor. 

“This may be a great idea, but it is a big change,” Carroll said. “I just think that it is important that, if there’s any comments, if possible, we hear from the community about this.”  

Price said the department plans to send the request for proposals to solicit bids later this year or in early 2021 and will consult with the recreation board before deciding whether to hire an outside vendor, with Bexley City Council giving the final authorization.  

“We would go through a resolution of support (issued by the board), and if the board doesn’t feel comfortable with it, that’s fine and we can change course,” Price said. “And if they do, that’s fine, too, and we’ll then move to council from there.” 

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