Sweet Home pool levy passed by voters

By Ethan Hoagland
Of The New Era

Sweet Home voters renewed the pool levy nearly two to one. 63% of voters approved the renewal at $0.30 per $1,000, the same rate agreed to in the 2018 election.

“The good thing about this is that our funding is now secured for the next five years,” Pool Supervisor A Jay Bronson said. “Knowing that the community wants to continually support this facility means that we can do some bigger maintenance items to hopefully keep the pool stable and around for another 7 to 10 years.”

As we’ve reported, district officials are looking to update the filtration system and replaster the pool. The levy provides for operational costs, but maintenance comes out of the district’s pocket.

The pool levy has been approved by Sweet Home voters multiple times. Initially, the levy cost taxpayers $0.32 per $1,000. This year’s vote breaks down to 1,791 in favor, 1,033 against.

Pool Supervisor A Jay Bronson, without arguing for or against the renewal, put it bluntly: “If this gets voted down, the pool ceases to exist.”

It costs about $360,000 to run the pool, not including maintenance, according to Strong. He said the pool brings in about $30,000 a year from

Sweet Home Swim Club goes about their Friday meet. Photo by Ethan Hoagland

pool use fees and contributions, leaving some $331,000 difference that’s covered by the levy. Meanwhile, maintenance expenses are coming out of the district’s pocket, Strong said.

Sweet Home voters have kept the levy around for more than 10 years, first approving it in 2012 at $0.32 per $1,000. The district reduced that amount to $0.30 per $1,000 in 2018, when voters gave it another 5-year green light.

If the levy renewal passes, Strong identified possible priority projects for the pool. He said the district plans to replaster the pool and replace the pool’s filtration system. Bronson pointed out that those projects can’t use money from the levy, since they qualify as maintenance, but are still contingent on the renewal.

“If this is something that the community wants to keep,” Bronson said, “the district will release some funds to help upgrade the pool and keep it more sustainable. So, redoing the plastering, something that hasn’t been done in probably 20 to 30 years. Redoing the filtration system.” He added that the current “behemoth” of a sand filtration system is more than 75 years old.

In September, a valve burst in the filtration system. A week later, the pool was up and running again.

Since the 1950s, the community pool has been the central hub for all things swimming in Sweet Home. Beyond recreation, the pool provided community members with lessons, physical therapy and fitness.

It’s also the headquarters for Sweet Home’s Swim Club. According to head coach Kelly Sautel, the club supports 36 swimmers who come from all over the Sweet Home Community. Without the pool, that all goes away, Sautel said. The club has been using the community pool for more than 50 years.

Passing the levy opens up more funding avenues than just the dollars on the cents paid by Sweet Home residents. If passed, the district, which maintains the community pool, would qualify for a state grant. The grant would give at least $225,000 yearly to cover things like maintenance and renovation, Strong said. But it all depends on what the voters choose come November 7.