Break out the beach balls and floaties because just in time for summer, Paysonites can once again dig a swimming pool.
The council’s vote to lift a longstanding ban caused an uproar among some town council candidates who say allowing pools in drought-stricken times is irresponsible.
But Mayor Kenny Evans said impact fees and water sales to residential and commercial pool owners will help the town finish the C.C. Cragin pipeline and assure the town’s water future.
Still, mayoral candidate Randy Roberson says the council should put the ban back in place.
On the Voice of Rim Country Facebook page, Roberson and council candidates Bob Lockhart, Charlene Creach Brown and Chris Higgins said the town should not waste water on swimming pools.
“Easing water restrictions can wait UNTIL AND IF we have water from the C.C. Cragin project, which is currently in need of $32 million to complete,” was posted on the candidates’ page.
Currently, the town has spent about $22 million on the pipeline, but needs perhaps $28 million to finish the project connecting the town’s water supply to a reservoir atop the Mogollon Rim. The town has to put the water to use to retain rights to it — and needs to show it will have enough revenue from water sales to issue revenue bonds through either state or federal water infrastructure programs.
To avoid big hikes in water bills, town officials have applied for grants and federal loans, as well as developing more water customers.
The town uses about 1,800 acre-feet annually now, but the pipeline will bring an additional 3,500 acre-feet. Last year, the town signed an agreement with local golf courses for water, all in an effort to offset capital costs, Evans said.
To get the state Water Infrastructure Finance Authority (WIFA) loans the town needs, it needs to show lenders the town has the revenue stream to pay off its debts by selling more water and collecting more impact fees.
The council recently responded to tough new state rules on impact fees by reducing the water impact fee on a home by about $1,000 to $6,600 while eliminating impact fees for police and fire, streets and roads and other town services. Read more about impact fees in Friday’s Roundup.
The water impact fee is now $6,592 for one equivalent dwelling unit (EDU). Pools, spas and fountains count as one EDU per 30,000-gallon system. The impact fee for swimming pools is already on the books, but the pool ban prevented anyone from building a pool and paying the fee.
In April, the council eliminated that ban, although it can still stop people from filling pools during a water shortage.
Anyone interested in building a pool has to get a building permit and pay water impact fees.
Evans estimates it will cost about $40,000-$50,000 in impact fees to build a swimming pool commercially. He said the town has lost resort developments in the past as a result of the pool ban. Residentially, would-be pool owners will have to pay an impact fee anywhere from $6,592 to $20,000, depending on the size of the pool. The pool owner will still have to pay monthly water rates to keep the pool full. A pool loses from evaporation about 600 gallons of water a month — roughly a quarter of the monthly water use for the average Payson home.
The impact fees will likely double the cost of pool construction, that’s why Evans doesn’t foresee a rush on pool building.
Town Attorney Tim Wright said as of Monday he was unaware of anyone wanting to pull a pool permit.
“I suspect the council didn’t think there would be a flood of pools built,” he said.
Evans believes hotels may want to build several commercial pools, with the money going to help cover the cost of the Blue Ridge pipeline.