Mayor Vetoes EGF Council Action on PoolEast Grand Forks Mayor Lynn Stauss on Tuesday vetoed the City Council’s action a week earlier to accept a $1.5 million bid to renovate the city’s swimming pool.
East Grand Forks Mayor Lynn Stauss on Tuesday vetoed the City Council’s action a week earlier to accept a $1.5 million bid to renovate the city’s swimming pool.
He said city residents can’t afford the 8 percent property tax increase required to do the entire project, which could total $2 million with interest and contingencies.
However, Stauss stressed that the pool will not be closed in 2013 nor will it be allowed to fall into disrepair. He said fixes will be made to keep the pool operational until a funding strategy can be developed.
“We can look for grants and hopefully volunteer groups can help us raise money,” Stauss said. “Maybe we can work with the city’s Water & Light to borrow us money or help us some other way. Or, who knows? Maybe (Local Government Aid) comes back.”
He said new bids may be sought since only two companies submitted bids on the work.
Administrator Scott Huizenga said a rumor is untrue about the state health department shutting down the pool unless repairs are made. He said estimates of the maintenance required to keep the pool operational are about $25,000 a year.
“We’re going to provide a pool that is safe,” Stauss said. “The other thing is that we’re going to do everything to keep taxes down.
“Maybe the best option in the future turns out to be a new pool, but we need to take the time first to see what is the best way to go,” Stauss said.
The mayor needs votes from only two of the seven council members to uphold his veto. Since the project passed the council by only a 4-3 margin, he apparently has the necessary support.
The Save Our Pool committee of East Grand Forks residents was not upset by the mayor’s veto. So said Mark Olstad, one of the organizers.
“It’s unfortunate that the pool costs have gone back and forth,” Olstad said. “On the other hand, this also gives us a chance to look at it further and see what we can do to help.
“It’s back to the drawing board, going line by line to see what can be eliminated or changed and then go rebid it. We’ve been assured that shutting down the pool will never happen.”
Olstad said the SOP group already has found ways to raise money, including work during the city’s 125th anniversary celebration next week.
Olstad filed Tuesday to run for the Fifth Ward City Council seat, but he said the pool issue didn’t prompt his candidacy. He said he decided to run on June 25, the day that Fifth Ward Alderman Wayne Gregoire announced that he is running for mayor against Stauss.