Temporary Closure of Community Pools Affects Swimming Pool Fees

By Jonathan Nunez

ARLINGTON, VA.- Members of the Arlington School Board heard how swimming pool fees would affect the proposed fiscal 2021 budget in an April 21 meeting, as the pandemic has caused a financial crisis. 

Revenue from county pool fees charged to class participants are shared with Arlington Public Schools (APS). The Virginia governor has ordered the closure of movie theaters, bowling alleys, racetracks, swimming pools and other recreational and entertainment businesses. 

The closures mean APS would need to subsidize community pool use, by contributing about $442,000, said Cynthia Hilton, chairwoman of the Aquatics Committee. Hilton said that there is no reason APS should continue to give away pool access to community swimmers because they sign up for classes or teams. 

People enrolled in community classes, private lessons, the Arlington Aquatic Club or other teams renting the swimming pool will be charged admission during the time of the class or practice. 

HIlton also suggests the Board to increase users fees or ask Arlington County to pick up the remaining tax support needed for its community users. “If present circumstances deem a fee increase necessary, we urge to adopt a fee scale no higher than that used in FY (fiscal year) 2019.” Hilton said. “In no case fees should be raised to a level expected to generate a surplus.” 

The school board is expected to adopt a budget May 7. 

“Every penny should matter even with a revised baseline budget,” Hilton said. “The silver lining in this bleak situation is that you (the School Board) have the authority to reduce appropriated funds APS is paying to support community use of its pools by charging all community pool users admission fees based on the same scale.” 

Bob Ramsey, chairman of the Budget Advisory Council, provided some charts that summarized his advice to the School Board for the 2021 school year. The charts were not shown to the public during the meeting, but can be found on the APS website

“We hope the economy may accelerate during the course of this next year and that the schools and the whole county doesn’t have to suffer the results of the brakes applied to the situation that we see right now. And we hope that we can benefit from the economy coming back up to speed,” Ramsey said. 

The board will continue receiving comments via email and through voicemail as well as comments in writing as from the members of the community as they consider the proposed budget.


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