BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – It’s official. The City of Fort Madison is now only partially in the swimming pool business.
At Tuesday’s regular meeting of the Fort Madison City Council, the council voted unanimously to turn over operations of the municipal pool to the YMCA from May 1 to Sept. 3.
Mayor Brad Randolph asked City Manager David Varley to address the issue when the agenda item came up.
“It’s a good deal. You should pass it,” Varley panned, and then went on a five-minute update on the agreement with the YMCA.
The basis of the agreement is that the YMCA would be responsible for all operational expenses and the city would act as a landlord being responsible for all capital expenses and upkeep. The city will pay a $20,000 yearly management fee and would pay for any deficits up to $35,000. The city incentivized efficiency on the part of the YMCA by offering a 25% bonus on any savings. If the YMCA runs at a $30,000 deficit, the city would pay the YMCA an additional $1,250 for running a more efficient operation.
“This allows us to focus on our parks, while the YMCA gets to do what they’re good at, which is recreation.”
City Councilman Kevin Rink asked YMCA Executive Director Ryan Wilson, who was in attendance, if people would be able to use their YMCA passes for the city pool.
Wilson said the two are separate entities, but said pass prices would not go up as part of the agreement. He said the YMCA is also looking at the possibility of letting people use city pool passes at the YMCA if the pool is closed due to weather. However nothing has been finalized and that decision would rest with the YMCA.
“We need to make sure we have things for the kids to do in the summer, so that’s something we could look at down the road.”
Wilson said these arrangements aren’t uncommon, noting that the West Burlington City Pool is now under the management of the Burlington YMCA and Washington’s city pool is under the management of the YMCA in that city.
Randolph said it was vital that the services be kept at a minimum as good as they were, or preferably better, now that the YMCA is managing the pool.
In an unrelated issue, the council approved three separate settlement agreements with the library staff, fire departments, and local 2003 police department union with a 2.5 across the board pay increases and incremental increases in the employee’s contribution to family insurance plans starting next year individual plans are still at no cost to the employee.
Varley dialed up the attorney who represented the city in the negotiations who recommended the city go into an exempt session under Iowa Code. City Councilor Robert Morawitz asked to table the issue until the end of the meeting to enter into the exempt session. Several members of the media contested the exempt session saying there was no foundation in the discussion of a resolution to satisfy exempt status as it would be considered a strategy session since the agreements had tentatively been reached. The agenda items were to approve the agreements.
Iowa Code does allow for exempt meetings. An exempt session is not subject to the open meetings requirements and can be held without public notice, be separate from an open meeting, be held without taping or minutes, and can be held without a vote or motion.
With Randolph discussing options for the session with the attorney, Councilman Chris Greenwald made a motion to call the question, which was seconded by Councilman Travis Seidel. A vote was then taken to vote directly on the resolution and that vote passed 4-2 with Morawitz and City Councilman Rusty Andrews voting against the motion. Kevin Rink motioned to approve the resolution for the library staff settlement agreement. Seidel seconded and that motion passed 5-1 with Morawitz casting the only nay vote.
The other two resolutions for the fire and police agreements passed unanimously.
In other action,
– the council voted 6-0 to approve the fiscal year 2018-19 budget and set a public hearing March 6, at 5:30 p.m. in the council chambers.
– the council voted 6-0 to approve and award construction contracts for the replacement of the bridge over the creek at Avenue I.