The lost just over $38,000 in the 2011-12 fiscal year, according to a budget statement provided by the .
The budget statement, which Albany Patch requested, indicates the pool brought in approximately $300,000 in revenue, but incurred about $338,000 in costs.
The difference was covered by money from the school district's general fund, as indicated in the third line of the budget statement. (See the full budget statement to the right.)
Though the Aquatic Center is losing money, a projected a much greater budget shortfall, between $78,000 and $166,000.
In a , Assistant Superintendent Laurie Harden said the new Aquatic Center had been in the red approximately $10,000 to $15,000 per month over the past four to five months.
At that time, Harden said the financial picture could begin to improve with increased revenue during the summer months.
Albany Patch requested a monthly breakdown of revenues and expenditures, but Aquatic Center Director Amanda Garcia said the information would not be available until September.
Harden cautioned that it is difficult to judge the financial situation of the Aquatic Center at the moment because there is no historical data to use as a comparison. As such, she said she could not predict whether the pool was .
“We’re always concerned about the deficit, but until we have some solid data, we can’t really make any projections,” she said.
The budget statement for the 2011-12 fiscal year shows that a majority of the expenses, about $240,000, goes to staffing.
According to Garcia, there are six head lifeguards and about 40 other lifeguards and swim instructors, many of whom are Albany High students.
“With the size of the pool and the number of classes we offer, it’s just enough staff,” she said.
On the budget statement, “Other Fees” accounts for about $299,000 of revenue. “Other Fees” includes the revenue from swim lessons, recreational use and the pool’s other programs, but there is no explanation as to how that $299,000 is divided.
Though Garcia said she couldn’t provide an exact breakdown of the revenue brought in by each individual program until September, she did speak in general terms about efforts to decrease the Aquatic Center’s deficit.
Swim lessons, which during the summer are offered both in the morning and the afternoon, make up a large chunk of the pool’s revenue, she said.
“We’re trying to fit as many lessons in the pool as we can with the way the pool is structured, and still make sure it’s safe,” she said.
Garcia also succeeded in drawing three Piedmont Swim Team coaches to Albany to , which will use the pool starting Sept. 4.
This summer, the Piedmont Swim Team has been using the pool four afternoons a week. Though that agreement will end Aug. 9, the Piedmont High School water polo team will practice at the Albany pool this fall twice a week.
Although Garcia did not provide exact numbers for how much these teams’ rentals of the Aquatic Center will help boost revenue, she said it’s definitely a step in the right direction.
Two other factors that have been helping to offset costs are the Aquatic Center’s solar panels and cogeneration unit.
The cogeneration unit burns natural gas, which produces electricity and heat. This heat is then recycled back to warm the outdoor pool, cutting costs normally required to keep the water at its target temperature of 79 degrees.
Garcia said the cogeneration unit—the same one used by the old Albany Pool—is so efficient that it often keeps the outdoor pool well above 80 degrees. Consequently, the Aquatic Center rarely needs to cover the cost of heating the outdoor pool.
The budget statement shows that gas and electric utilities cost slightly less than $30,000 last fiscal year, but neither Garcia nor Harden knew how much money the solar panels and cogeneration unit saved.
According to Garcia, it’s possible that at some point in the far future the Aquatic Center will use the heat from the cogeneration unit to warm the outdoor pool as well as the indoor pool, which is kept between 83 and 85 degrees.
The after Berkeley High’s warm pool—kept at about 92 degrees—closed in December 2011, but the Albany pool’s temperature is unlikely to change.
“We’re pretty firm on where we’re going to keep the temperature of the pool,” said Garcia. “We feel it’s the best for the all the activities we offer.”
One thing that may change as soon as next calendar year is the pricing structure, according to Garcia.
She said she originally set the Aquatic Center’s fees on the lower end in hopes of attracting new pool users to check out the facility.
But to help close the gap between costs and revenue, Garcia said one option might be to raise prices slightly to a level comparable to other nearby facilities.
While the Aquatic Center ran a deficit for its first five months in operation, Harden noted that some of the costs in the 2011-12 fiscal year budget statement were for startup supplies that will not need to be purchased next year, and Garcia shared a similar sentiment.
“The bond didn’t cover a lot of the things integral to running a pool,” she said. “No matter how much I argue that uniforms for lifeguards are necessary for the pool to function, that kind of thing wasn’t covered by it.”
Garcia stressed that, while she is keeping the budget in mind, her ultimate goal is to meet residents’ needs.
“Really it’s their community pool, and we’re trying to make sure we can provide a program that can support all the things they want,” she said.
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