The Payson council voted unanimously Thursday to save between $32,000 and $64,000 by turning Taylor Pool over to a private company to run this summer.
EVO Swim School owner David Tait said the company will offer almost all the classes and pool hours as the town did last summer — including the daily public swim sessions.
The charge for the public swim will drop from last summer’s $3 to $2, said Tait.
However, the cost of other programs could rise dramatically. For instance the price of swim lessons will double and the price of participating in the swim team will jump 50 percent.
Still, the council hailed the new agreement, in the face of ongoing budget trauma. The town came close to shutting down the pool last summer and is struggling with a long-running decline in tax revenues as a result of the recession. The town has canceled most capital projects, curtailed street maintenance, imposed a hiring freeze, laid off part-time workers and put all employees on furloughs that amount to a 12 to 15 percent pay cut to cope with a projected million-dollar deficit.
“We have struggled mightily as our revenues have continued to decline,” said Payson Mayor Kenny Evans, and finding the money to operate the pool “has been a bigger and bigger problem.”
“This is wonderful,” said Councilor Su Connell. “The pool has been a mental and emotional drain for years.”
Payson Parks and Recreation Director Cameron Davis said, “This is a good deal for the community.”
Tait, who holds state records in swimming, said that the company will work hard to offer the same range of programs as the town had offered — including lessons, a swim team, lap swimming for adults, water aerobics and the public swim hours in June and July. In addition, he said he hoped to work with Payson High School to help the school start a competitive swim team.
He put the best face on the increase in fees.
He said that EVO offers high quality programs and lessons. “A child will get more out of two lessons than out of a whole summer at a public pool program,” he said. “While there will be an increase — and on paper it looks like a large increase — the value will be tremendous.”
The cost of the swim team membership will jump from $50 to $75, while the cost of swim lessons will double — to $12.50 for two lessons.
However, he said that compares to the $17.50 EVO Swim School charges for a lesson in the indoor pool in Gilbert.
The town will still foot the bill for maintenance of the pool — about $38,000.
Last year, the town spent $104,000 on the pool — and collected about $32,000 in fees. So, depending on how you do the math, the new arrangement will result in a savings of about $32,000 over last year when the revenue collected is taken into account.
The future of Taylor Pool has been in doubt for the past several years, ever since voters rejected a contract the council had negotiated with the YMCA to remodel the pool in Rumsey Park and add major new facilities, including a teen center and exercise center.
Tait launched EVO Swim School three years ago and the company now manages pools for the town of Gilbert and the Queen Creek School District.
Tait is a three-time state champion and state record holder, Junior National champion, Senior National qualifier and competitor in the Olympic trials. He has taught swimming for 15 years and directs the Rio Salado Swim Club.