Q&A: If the aquatic center sales tax measure passes

SARAH SCHILLING, Herald staff writerJuly 13, 2013 

What will the facility look like?

The proposed regional aquatics facility and water park would sit on 13 acres off Sandifur Parkway in the Road 100 area of west Pasco.

The vision is for a mix of indoor and outdoor features, with a roughly 46,000-square-foot indoor area open year-round and a 42,000-square-foot outdoor area open seasonally.

The indoor features are planned to include a 25-meter-by-25-yard competition pool; 1-meter and 3-meter diving boards; a multipurpose lap, warm-up and training pool; a surf simulator; multiple water slides; an activity pool with volleyball and basketball; a leisure pool with sprays and a play structure; and a river channel.

The outdoor features are planned to include a wave/leisure pool with sprays and a play structure; multiple water slides, a river channel and a volleyball and sand play area.

Support facilities would include parking, changing rooms, viewing areas and concessions.

How much will it cost to build and operate?

Land, development, construction and equipment are expected to cost about $35 million.

The cost to operate the facility is projected to be $3.4 million a year, including 12 full-time staff and “variable part-time and seasonal positions.” A set-aside for equipment replacement also is included.

The aquatics facility and water park is expected to bring in about $3 million annually from admissions and concessions.

How will it be paid for?

The public facilities district will issue sales tax revenue bonds to cover building and outfitting the facility. The one-tenth of 1 percent sales tax increase in Richland, Pasco and Kennewick is estimated to raise about $3.35 million a year, with officials budgeting $2.5 million annually to pay down that bond debt and $250,000 for administrative costs and the equipment reserve.

That would leave $600,000 a year to help with any operations costs that aren’t covered by admissions and concessions revenue, which is $200,000 more than the projected operations shortfall.

What about admission prices?

They haven’t been finalized, but the public facilities district is basing its budget on charging $7 for kids ages 4 to 12 and seniors age 65 and older, $8 for teens 13 to 17 and $9 for adults.

Officials also anticipate offering summer and annual passes.

Who will run it?

That hasn’t been decided yet either. The regional public facilities district has options, including hiring its own management staff or contracting out to a private company or a group such as the Pasco Public Facilities District.

The regional public facilities district would retain ownership of the aquatics facility and water park.

How have similar nearby facilities fared?

The Moses Lake Surf ‘n Slide Water Park, which opened in 1994 and expanded about 41⁄2 years ago, draws more than 100,000 people annually.

It’s an outdoor water park that includes a 50-meter competition pool, slides, play structures and a surf simulator. The city-owned facility is open Memorial Day to Labor Day.

Spencer Grigg, Moses Lake’s parks and recreation director, said the water park has made a net profit on operations all but one year.

Admission prices are $8 for kids and seniors, $9 for teens and $10 for adults. Children age 4 and younger are free.

Source: www.tcpfd.org

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