Tuesday, May 9, 2017

How to address our Casino and pool at the Beach: “[D]o some things you can do with coats of paint and whatnot.”

Whap! Whap! Whap!
Who first used the words “white elephant” about the pool at the Beach? And said “stop clinging to the past and install features that will attract people and revenue”? Find out below.

To the quote in the title, Mayor Pam Triolo responded to a now-former commissioner this way:
“This is something which we actually have to do business to make money in this [Beach] fund. That’s all I’m saying. Let’s be consistent across the board.”
This exchange happened at a City Budget Work Session in August of last year (see below for the mayor’s entire response). It was during these budget meetings when a former commissioner, Chris McVoy, PhD, said to use “coats of paint and whatnot” to fix the Casino and pool. Later he claimed the City was trying to “torpedo” the Beach Fund.

Mayor Triolo set him right saying the City is done with “band aid” solutions. McVoy’s answer to fixing the Casino/pool complex was the same all along: raise rates for parking and electric rates too. Will increased parking rates increase revenue? Sure. In the short term. But what about long term? The answer to that always is, “We’ll have to wait and see.”

Here is Mayor Triolo’s entire response to McVoy:

“I don’t think you reacted the same way in the Electric Utility conversation did you? That we should just kind of go wing it and see how we do? I think it’s inconsistent. I think it’s disingenuous to ask for higher electric rates and larger reserves in the Electric Utility Fund to make sure that we have money to prepare for and to maintain it when you’re willing to go willy-nilly on the Beach Fund and not worry about maintenance. I think it’s disingenuous. You [McVoy] completely changed your philosophy on how you think a professional organization should run by your conversation on the Electric Utilities from how you’re handling this [Beach] Fund. I find that inconsistency is something that the City can’t bear as a professional organization as a whole. . .” [McVoy tries to interrupt]

Mayor Triolo continues: “I have the floor. I’ve sat and listened to all of you all night. I very barely spoke all evening so please give me the floor when I’m speaking. So now going back to it. We have to build in the maintenance. We have to look at it from that direction and be consistent across the board. But we have reserves for things. We have maintenance for things. And this is a fund [Beach Fund] that doesn’t have guaranteed revenue increases as they [Burton and Associates, accountants] so eloquently talked about. It’s not like a revenue bond where you know you have that money and you get it paid back because that money is coming in. This is something which we actually have to do business to make money in this [Beach] fund. That’s all I'm saying. Let’s be consistent across the board.”

The most important thing to remember going forward addressing the problems at the Casino complex and pool is this: When the City had the money to fix the pool back in 2010–2011 they didn’t plan for a proper renovation. The pool and pool buildings were left to decay and fall apart; then the pool was shut down as a “cost-saving measure”.

And remember it wasn’t City Manager Michael Bornstein who coined the term “white elephant” about the pool at the Beach. That phrase was first used by the inimitable former blogger Tom McGow back in March of 2010:

“The Olympic sized pool at the beach is a white elephant whose time has passed. Let’s view the entire beach property with 21st century eyes and stop clinging to the past and install features that will attract people and revenue.”

All these things are good to remember as we head into another budget debate. Yes — about the pool too — once again.