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Palm Coast Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015 4 years ago

Belle Terre Swim and Racquet Club given three months to raise membership to 400 or it closes

Advisory committee is confident they can sell an additional 290 memberships by deadline.
by: Jacque Estes Community Editor

As school board member Andy Dance predicted at the meeting Tuesday, Oct. 20; “not everybody is going to leave happy tonight.”

The subject was the Belle Terre Swim and Racquet Club and the chairs in the board room were filled with different groups, each with their own agenda but all with the same goal—to keep the pool open.

The school board voted 3-2 to reduce hours to 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and close on Sunday, effective Monday, Nov. 2. The motion also put a deadline of January 19, 2016 for the Belle Terre Swim and Racquet Advisory Committee to sign up 400 paid members. As of the meeting the committee had 110 memberships, all renewals.

“I think we can easily get another 100. The question will be, can we pick up the other 200?" Doug Courtney, president of Belle Terre Swim and Racquet Club Advisory Committee.

“By the January 19 decision date, we have the money and it’s in our pocket and we are not funding it from somewhere else or we shut it down,” board member Sue Dickinson said.

Jacob Oliva’s initial  proposal gave the advisory committee until March to reach the 400 membership benchmark, something that did not sit well with some board members who believe the process has dragged on long enough. Board members Dickinson, Trevor Tucker and Janet McDonald were not in favor of extending the final decision date another six months.

Dickinson made the motion to modify Jacob Oliva’s original motion to the three-month deadline. Chairwoman Colleen Conklin and Andy Dance voted against moving the date forward saying it would be a hardship on the groups trying to keep the facility open.

With the reduction in hours and staff, the annual budget would be $190,223, excluding the annual debt service cost of $54,000 according to Kevin McCarthy Flagler Technical Institute director.

“I just want to not to take from other programs. To me that’s not fiscally responsible,” Tucker said. “If it’s not covering expenses then we shut it down.”

Funds to keep the pool afloat have been taken from the VPK and summer camp programs, both programs that do not fall under the state restriction protecting K-12 funding received from taxes. The funds for the afterschool programs are normally put back into the respective programs to offset expenses and fees.

A membership base of 400 people paying $200 per membership would bring in $80,000, and people who pay to use the facility on a single day rate could increase income another $50,000. The Silver Sneakers Program, an insurance program that subsidizes those who use the facility, adds another $65,000 to income. It was noted that the contract with the group had not been renegotiated since 2007.  

During a short recess to allow those only interested in the pool portion of the board meeting to leave, Dr. Doug Courtney president of the advisory committee said, “I am glad we got up to three months. We’re very dedicated. I have a feeling there’s not going to be any problem. It’s going to be hard to sell the memberships with those restrictions but we have other venues and other ways to save money and we’re looking forward to it.”

Also at the meeting

Spirit Pump fundraiser

Tom Fisher and store managers from four Kangaroo/Valero gas stations, presented an $8,000 check to the board. Four Flagler Schools, Old Kings Elementary, Belle Terre Elementary, Flagler Palm Coast High School and Matanzas High School, each will receive $2,000. The stations donated the same amount last June.

Each station has a yellow Sprint Pump and the schools gets one cent for every gallon of gas from the yellow pump.




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