Toccoa, YMCA Talk Doyle Street Pool

Discussions will continue regarding the opening of the Doyle Street Pool in Toccoa this summer.

Monday, Toccoa-Stephens County YMCA CEO Robin Dake appeared before Toccoa City Commissioners to request an increase in the management fee that the city pays the YMCA to operate the pool.

Currently, that management fee is $25,000. Dake said the YMCA’s board wants the city to increase that and pay the Y $35,000 this summer to operate the pool.

She said one reason for the request is a cost analysis done by the national YMCA for the local Y.

“It showed that in actuality we are losing money on the pool,” said Dake. “We are losing $16,000. When you look at direct costs of revenue and expenses, there is a net gain. But when you add in the administrative costs, my salary, the cost of the computer sitting on my desk, all of those occupancy costs, that is where we are losing money on that.”

Dake also noted that the city reduced the management fee a couple of years ago from $30,000 to the $25,000 figure.

Toccoa City Commissioner Terry Carter said he understands the Y’s cost analysis, but looks at it differently.

“I understand how you can do the other math, but that is the hard cash, is you are making $16,000 on it,” said Carter.

Also, City Commissioner Gail Fry said she felt the Y’s analysis did not take revenues and other factors into account.

Meanwhile, Toccoa Mayor David Austin said that a House Bill passed a number of years ago puts the burden for recreation on the county, not the city. In addition, city commissioners said a master plan the county has for recreation includes a pool at Rose Lane.

City Commissioner Ron Seib said he would like to see the discussion between the city and county move forward.

“One discussion point that we need to bring up is with the county given that we are limping along with this, why not ask the county to perhaps participate in this process,” said Seib. “Given that it is their responsibility in the big scheme of things or have some sort of definitive point that they are going to commit to do something because it seems every year we just come back to this.”

Dake also said she would like to see a long-term discussion on recreation between the city and county, with the Y being involved with that.

Seib later asked Dake what it would mean for the Y if the pool were shut down.

Dake said that would present a challenge.

“For the program it would be difficult, you have got to get those kids in water,” said Dake.

According to Dake, the Y would reach out to other locations about other pool options, such as the Elks Club, as well as purchasing water games and sprinklers to set up.

Dake also pointed out that the YMCA’s pool management agreement includes the Doyle Street Community Center. In response, city officials expressed concern about the long-term condition of the community center building and whether it would be usable much longer without costly and major repairs.

Overall, Austin said he does not feel increasing the management fee is a step to take at this point.

“I would be opposed to an extra $10,000,” said Austin. “I think we are going to have to look long term. I think we are going to have to make a tough decision about that pool.”

He said he would support paying the $25,000 management fee, which is in the budget, for this summer, provided long-term discussions about recreation between the city and county take place.

Dake said she would take that back to her board for their discussion.