February 11, 2016

Pool posts small loss in 2010 season

Danedri Thompson

Despite losing money in its operations last year, Jeff Stewart, Gardner Parks and Recreation Director, told city council members Nov. 1 that the 2010 season was a success.

“I think all in all things went very well. It was just a good pool season,” Stewart said.

Attendance for the year was also down slightly. In 2009, 97,984 people visited the Gardner Aquatic Center. In 2010, that number dropped to 89,163. Stewart said that could be due to a number of reasons.

This year’s pool season was one week shorter due to where Memorial Day fell on the calendar.

Second, he said new municipal pools in Olathe and Spring Hill may have siphoned visitors.

“We would compete for some of the same population,” Stewart said.

The aquatic center opened for business in 2007. It posted small profits in its first three years — $37,510 in 2007; $783 in 2008; and $5,455 in 2009 — but last season, the city lost money.

The pool brought in $421,385 in revenue in 2010. The revenues included more than $65,584 in concession sales, $172,044 in admission revenues, $31,842 in swim lessons and class fees and $4,980 in rental fees.

But the total revenues were not enough to cover the pool’s $436,169 in operational expenditures. The bulk of expenses were for personnel services, which cost the city more than $280,000.

Stewart told the council that some personnel expenses can be monitored. For example, he said if attendance is down, pool managers may send admissions desk employees home.

“On days when it’s slow due to weather, we are able to reduce staff,” he said. “We do look at that on a daily basis.”

Other expenditures included more than $125,000 in contractual fees and commodities purchases as well as more than $9,000 in capital outlay. At season’s end, the pool posted a $14,783 loss as operational expenses outpaced revenues by about 3 percent.

Stewart told the council it’s not unusual for municipalities to subsidize pool operations.

Between 2002 and 2006, before the new swimming pool was built, Gardner citizens subsidized pool operations between $56,485 and $73,342 per year.

However, Stewart said figures don’t include debt service. From 2002 to 2006, Gardner residents weren’t paying debt on the swimming pool. Voters approved a sales tax to fund construction of the aquatic center, but sales tax revenues have fallen short of projections.

Last year, the general fund subsidized pool and Celebration Park debt.

Stewart said other cities subsidize municipal pool operations at higher percentages. He polled De Soto, Overland Park, Blue Springs, Lee’s Summit, Leawood, Shawnee Mission, Olathe, Bonner Springs and Merriam last November. Those cities reported they subsidize pool operations an average of 36 percent, compared to Gardner’s 3 percent.

Stewart said the survey did not ask about the debt service related to municipal pools in the other communities.


  1. I absolutely love how the city of Gardner only tells you what they WANT YOU TO HEAR. If a citizen is not an independent thinker and knows to ask all of the questions needed, then you will continue to pay higher and higher taxes and that is the price of being a follower. Also, citizens will never get fiscal responsibility from their government entities unless they also practice fiscal responsibility.

    I remember well how our school district let the city of Gardner into our schools to brainwash our kids and to send literature home to parents about the “needed” Worlds of Fun pool (a larger pool perhaps would have been acceptable but only if it is affordable). This should not be happening in our schools in my opinion – our schools should be a place for learning and teaching and considering the exorbinant amount we are paying for schools, then I say the school district better get their priorities in order and know what they should be doing. But I don’t think that is going to happen in this school district and again I say we need to combine Spring Hil, Gardner/Edgerton and DeSoto school districts to save the taxpayers some big money and get rid of some of these administrators and school boards who are not putting education first – your dropout rate is going up at the rate of 600%

    Citizens were voting for this pool project as a WANT and not as a NEED, fell for the propaganda, tied themselves to a project they could not afford and they have lost valuable tax revenue because of it and added to the city’s huge indebtedness which brought about the mill levy increase you will be seeing in your property tax bill that will be arriving this month. The 2010 property tax bills are online now -compare the mill levies between 2009 and 2010 and you will quickly see what entities are hitting you for more tax dollars. Don’t just look at the total tax bill – look at the mill levies – many of you are seeing lower appraisal amounts so the only true comparison you should be making is that mill levy. Citizens bring about adverse affects to themselves by not staying informed with respect to their city government. That City Hall bunch have not been doing you any favors for a long time but until citizens start doing their jobs, then you will pay the price – a higher and higher price – that is my opinion.

  2. I made an error in my previous comment. Citizens of Gardner voted themselves and their neighbors a sales tax increase to fund this pool rather than lose tax revenue as I referred to. And that sales tax increase was for a want, in my opinion, rather than a need.

  3. Judith you’re right it was a WANT and not a need and the majority of the Gardner Residents voted for that WANT.

  4. Oh yes, and fiscal irresponsibility leads to a huge city indebtedness creating higher and higher taxes as you will see on your 2010 property tax bill and higher water and sewer rates and who knows what else. Once again we have been spending more money than what is coming in the door and Drovetta along with the Council have increased the sweet deals to the takers and they tell them that Gardner is “open for business” – open for business involving low-paying jobs on the backs of the average citizens who seem to be the ATM of choice.

    Your city chose to have their latest “vision” meeting out of town at the KU Edwards Center in Overland Park. That cost us $1,400 for a facilitator and around $255 for lunch. Not one citizen attended the meeting. Fairburn advises the meeting was held out of town in an educational setting to make a long day more stimulating and productive – I think City Hall would have been fine especially considering we didn’t have enough money to make next year’s budget. The only other person besides city administration and Council members attending the meeting was Steve DeVore, the Chamber’s president, which is very logical since the city pretty much governs and works for the special interests and definitely many business owners in Gardner are part of the special interests. All of the sweet tax deals have been given to 21 business owners along Main St. and to the thieves who come here from out of town to make money but not pay their full taxes for the needs of the community, especially school dollars that are needed so much, however, our school district just sues to get more money from the people rather than work to require that all entities pay their full taxes.

    A whole bunch of people, especially the special interests, have “wants” and this last financial meltdown was based on “wants” which consisted of money and greed and it still continues.

  5. Judith I’ll agree with you on your point of the “vision” meeting taking place at the KU Edwards Campus. Not sure why a meeting about the Gardner area would take place in Overland Park.

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