McMinnville officials have voted to allow a discount admission rate at Gilley Pool for school-related activities consisting of 20 or more students. The reduction is open to Warren County Schools only.
Mayor Jimmy Haley, who is also a Young Scholars Institute director, asked Parks and Recreation Committee members to consider a discount.
“In the past, schools and YSI in particular have used the city pool and have always received group rates,” said Haley. “When I asked about a group rate for YSI, I was told we didn’t do that anymore and it would have to be brought before committee.”
The discount for groups was discontinued when officials did away with the dual fee structure and began charging everyone $4, regardless of age or place of residency.
Haley says a discount should be considered because school activities do not result in day-long visits to the pool.
“Some of the schools only stay an hour or two,” he said. “It’s not like they are staying all day long at the pool. YSI students stay an hour to an hour and a half.”
YSI is self-funded by fees paid by participants. It serves Warren County students each day for 10 days. The program offers various activities and trips that educate and entertain the children. The budget and agenda are currently being set for this summer.
Parks and Recreation director Scott McCord presented a list of groups that visit the facility which included YSI, Kids of Community, Inter City Ministry, West Elementary, Noah’s Ark Preschool from Cookeville, Camp Overton from Nashville, Sequatchie Middle School, Putnam County Schools, Camp Hy-Lake from Hillsboro, Trinity Assembly from Allgood, and Harpeth Hills from Brentwood.
“There is probably a couple more out there,” said McCord.
He gave the following suggestions:
• Groups must be 20 or more.
“This would accommodate pretty much all these groups and would stop parents from getting together in the morning or people gathering 10 people in the parking lot and getting a group rate,” said McCord.
• Group must request the discount two weeks in advance.
“This would stop the walkup groups and would allow us to continue to know when large groups were coming,” said McCord.
City administrator David Rutherford warned against fixing something that isn’t broken. He says the rate is fair for everyone and easy for staff.
“The decision was made two years ago to eliminate all the various admission prices and come up with one fee,” he said. “Regardless of age, regardless if you swim or not. If you are a grandparent and you want to go in with the kids, it’s $4. It has worked great. The last two years has been better on us with admissions than any other year in the past, because it’s simple.”
Alderman Mike Neal, who was not on the board when the decision was made to remove the dual fee structure, asked Rutherford about the fairness of charging Cookeville residents the same as Warren County residents.
“Don’t you think the local taxpayers here should be held a little different than someone coming from Cookeville?” Neal asked.
Rutherford replied, “That is a decision that you must make. I will go ahead and share with you that our attendance at the pool is not funded by local groups. It is funded by these folks from out of county. If we cut into that revenue stream, we won’t have as much money to cover the cost of operation.”
Parks and Recreation is not self-funded. Instead, it requires tax dollars from city residents on an annual basis in order to meet debt service and pay for day-to-day operations that revenue from admission fees does not cover.
Adding a financial strain on Parks and Recreation caused Vice Mayor Ben Newman to doubt a discount for all groups.
“It seems like $4 is kind of scraping the barrel,” Newman said. “Parks and Recreation doesn’t pay for itself. I think the point of a reduced rate for groups is to encourage groups to come. If groups are coming anyway because it is cheap the way it is, I would think we should leave it at that and not take money way from the already struggling Parks and Recreation.”
Haley requested they consider the reduced rate for local schools and daycares only.
“If we were to do it, that would be a more logical way to do it,” said Newman of a local group discount.
Neal made a motion that groups of 20 or more students from local schools will be given a $1 discount on the $4 admission, adding that the two-week advance notice must be made by a school official.
The motion was passed by Parks and Recreation Committee members Neal and Newman. Alderman Billy Wood was absent. The matter doesn’t have to go before the full board.