Friday, June 14, 2024

Swim Team Negotiates Contract with City

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Leavenworth Swim Team and the City of Leavenworth have been working to negotiate a contract so that the swim team can begin their 2022 season. This year, negotiations have drawn some notoriety around the community.

One of the biggest points of contention among the public was whether the swim team would have to clean the bathrooms after the meet.  At the city council meeting, community member Mary Pat Barton expressed concern over the swim team cleaning bathrooms.

“When you are doing swim team, the families that are doing it are really involved with just making sure the kids are safe,” Barton said. “So, I don’t think that the team should have to do things like clean the bathroom or pay for the lifeguards or any of that stuff.”

Leavenworth Swim Team Board President Hali Fiano said that she received conflicting messages from the pool manager and the city executive assistant regarding how the pool should be cleaned after meets. 

Fiano said that while the executive assistant communicated that the team only needed to take out the trash, the pool manager said that the team needed to deep clean the bathrooms with chemical cleaning products. Fiano said that the pool manager explained that rules needed to be strict because of past vandalism after swim meets.

Due to city policy regarding interviews, the pool manager was not available for comment. However, City of Leavenworth Communication Analyst Christie Voos spoke on behalf of the city. In an email, Voos said that the original contract template was copied from the standard facilities contract and had language regarding cleaning but that the contract was revised to require “leaving the facility as it was found,” after meets.

Fiano expressed that she wished that the city could subsidize the swim team financially because of how much money they make through tourism. However, Voos said that it is complicated for the city to give money to a business or non-profit. She stated that the swim team only pays for the cost of lifeguards during meets and not the full cost of operation.

Voos said that operational support to any single business or non-profit is generally not allowed due to the state constitution that does not allow “gifting of public funds”. But non-profits and businesses can receive money through the government in certain ways, like applying for the Leavenworth Fund, which will open for 2023 applications in early fall.

In 2022, the city received $350k in requests for grant money and was able to allocate $150k from the Leavenworth Fund, Voos said. In the past the pool has been supported  by taxpayers through various means. Throughout most of the history of the pool, it has not been profitable.

In the past, because the maintenance and operation levy was not enough to cover the costs of the pool, the city has transferred funds from the general fund to keep the pool operational, Voos said.

But beginning in 2013, additional levy funding began to cover annual costs and build a reserve, Voos said. The pool currently has an annual reserve of approximately $65k. If funds go above that amount, she said they will be used for capital projects.

In 2019, the city provided a $61,000 loan and $122,000 in funding to support the 2020 pool resurfacing project, Voos said. In relation to the cost of operation of the pool, swim team costs are small, but the swim team is a separate entity from the pool itself. In 2019 the swim team contract was $4,104. In 2021 due to the limited season the swim team contract was $2,064 and in 2022 the contract is $5638.50, a $1,534 increase from 2019.

Fiano stated that she felt pressured to sign the contract in a few days since the city’s executive assistant was going to be on vacation. Voos stated that the city contract specialist is currently out of the office and that the contract needed to be finalized before that staff member left for vacation.

In order for the swim team to use the pool, a fully executed contract is needed due to liability concerns and other reasons. Because the contract was not finalized before the original deadline, the mayor worked with the swim team to finalize the contract and figure out how the swim team could practice, Voos said.

The solution that the mayor found was to treat the swim team as normal guests at the pool, Voos said. However, this is still a backup plan, and the contract is expected to be finalized prior to the first day of official swim team practice. 

The need for a Unified Business Identifier (UBI) number delayed contract negotiations, Fiano said. A UBI is a 9-digit number issued to individuals and companies doing business in the State of Washington. Fiano said that the city required a UBI to go forward with contract negotiations when the team had not needed one in the past.

Another issue was that the Leavenworth Swim Team was referred to as Upper Valley Swim Team for many years, Fiano said. Because of this, business documents and articles of incorporation for the team were under Upper Valley Swim Team instead of the current name.

Voos said that the city cannot have a contract with an entity that doesn’t exist and that they needed the exact name. Once she knew the correct name, she said the problem was easily solved. Voos said that the city requires UBI’s from any entity who has a contract with the city.

Besides the contract issues, community members have been concerned about limited hours at the pool, both for swim team practice and for open swim. Voos said that due to staffing shortages, the pool cannot expand swim team hours or open on the weekends. The city is looking to hire more lifeguards for the summer.

The mayor, city, and swim team are expected to meet the week of June 20 to discuss the swim team and clear up any issues and concerns.

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