The North Fork Pool, Parks and Recreation District sees a brighter future after voters approved a mill levy increase in the Nov. 6 election.
The increase of 1.607 mills, approved by an unofficial vote of 2,407-2,014, will bring the mills to 2.5 and increase revenues by $128,305 for 2019. Funds will allow the district to maintain its current facilities and secure grant funding for future projects, said NFPPR district administrator Lenore Cambria.
Voters approved formation of the district in 1994. Under the state Taxpayers Bill of Rights (TABOR) and the Gallagher Amendment, the original levy of 1.4 mills has gradually reduced, along with funding, to its current .893 mills. That has caused revenues to drop from approximately $94,500 in 2015 to $79,600 in 2018, and was expected to go to as low as $73,800 in 2019, said Cambria.
"We were looking at some pretty tough questions," she said. "I'm optimistic now."
While the final vote count won't be official until Nov. 28, Cambria said she feels confident that the results will stand.
In addition to the North Fork Pool at Crossroads Park in Hotchkiss, the district oversees the soccer fields at Crossroads Park, and the Apple Valley Park tennis and pickleball courts and skate board park in Paonia in partnership with the Town of Paonia.
District facilities were expanded this summer to include a bicycle pump track with climbing boulder and balance course, and three miles of mountain bike trails at Crossroads Park, with funding from a Great Outdoors Colorado grant secured by The Nature Connection.
Using reserves, the district recently performed upgrades to the pool, including a new filtration system and heaters and re-tiling of the wading pool. The district also works hard to extend the life of its equipment in order to keep costs down, said Cambria, and no major expenses are anticipated at this time.
Between maintaining existing facilities, expansion of new facilities, rising insurance costs, and increases in minimum wages after passage of Amendment 70 in 2016, revenues have not kept pace with costs, said Cambria. The pool, which provides the only other revenue source for the district, doesn't pay for itself. In response, in 2018, season pass costs remained the same, but gate fees increased by a dollar and staff and operating hours were reduced. To ensure safety, a lifeguard supervisor was available during busy times.
Cambria said the pool will likely have the same fees, reduced hours and staffing levels in 2019 to help build reserves and give the district time to consider its options. "We want to keep it affordable for all residents," said Cambria.
The district also secured more than $1 million in grants and donations to construct a baseball complex at Crossroads Park. Work is expected to begin this fall after Phase 1 bids are awarded on Nov. 21, with completion slated in time for next summer, said Cambria.
To learn more about the district, visit www.northforkrecreation.com.