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It’s time to lift the burden of swim clubs off taxpayers | Editorial
The North Whidbey Park and Recreation District Board of Commissioners seems to be floundering in the deep end of the pool.
The board has yet to approve a 2014 budget, and now the district’s director, Bill Walker, has submitted his resignation.
Walker cites a dysfunctional board that’s too focused on the public pool’s aquatics club and masters programs.
Walker wants the board to acknowledge the district’s support of independent select programs using taxpayer funds.
In this age of austerity, we question the funding.
If the district reduced funding of the athletic programs, there would a surplus, according to Walker.
Commissioner Allan McDougall argues the competitive swim programs are important and the costs to its participants should be kept as low as possible.
To a point. We live in an age when youths and their parents are expected, and should expect, to cover a good chunk of the costs for their children’s athletic endeavors, particularly outside of school.
This is the norm for select baseball and soccer teams, among others.
Taxpayers shouldn’t have to pick up the lion’s share of the costs for a select, competitive program.
Consider the district’s first proposed budget — NWAC and Masters cost taxpayers $84,043 after fees and dues are paid by the swimmers.
By reducing benefits for coaches and taking award expenses out of the most recent budget draft, the cost to taxpayers drops to about $40,000.
The figures factor in dues and swim meet revenues, coaching salaries, payroll taxes associated with the programs and more than 6,000 hours of lane time.
According to the NWAC website, there are two mandatory fees for swim club members: The annual $65 registration for state and national governing bodies, such as USA Swimming, and a monthly fee based on the level of competitive swimming.
The monthly fees range from $48 to $101 per month. Discounts are available for families with multiple swimmers.
Meet fees are additional with individual event costs, ranging from $20-$35 per meet.
North Whidbey Park and Recreation District needs to begin taking steps toward making these programs self supporting.
This is an era of pay to play, and the commissioners need to understand that taxpayers shouldn’t be footing the deficit to keep these programs afloat.