You Paid for it: State auditor says Gahanna pool a drain on taxpayers

GAHANNA, OH (WCMH) — The city of Gahanna could save tax payers half a million dollars a year if they reduced employee health benefits and consolidated their aquatic centers.

That’s according to a new performance audit report from State Auditor Dave Yost.

Overall the report found the city was fiscally healthy and scored well on the audit, with potential savings of $400,000 a year. That amount is less than 1% of their total budget of $25 million.

However according to the report Gahanna city pools are a drain on tax payer dollars. The audit recommends Gahanna seriously consider if having and maintaining multiple pools is the best use of taxpayer dollars. Right now Gahanna maintains and operates three pools at two locations.

“It costs more to run the pool(s) than they are able to bring in income,” State Auditor Dave Yost said.

In a 95-page performance report Yost says Gahanna’s city pools have been losing money for years and the city could save $200,000 over ten years if they downsized to just one pool. “For a town the size of Gahanna that would fall within normal service,” Yost said.

It is a situation Gahanna Mayor Tom Kneeland said the city inherited, “Both of those pools were the product of a failed home owners association,” Kneeland adding that the city has made some progress, “The city has improved on the cost-benefit ratio.”

According to the report in 2016 the city spent $518,951 on having and maintaining the pools, while the pools only brought in $409,346 in revenue through participant fees.

Right now according to Mayor Kneeland there are no plans to consolidate or shut down aquatic services.

“We want to make sure we are offering the citizens everything they are expecting,” Kneeland said.

The report also found pools to be one of the most popular spots for Gahanna’s parks and recreation with about 39,000 visitors from 2013-2016.

Moving forward future pool maintenance and operation will continue to be a topic of conversation at city hall, “Some say get rid of them, privatize them, others say that is something for our youth,” Kneeland said.

The report also recommended reducing employee health benefits to the Franklin County average would save taxpayers a significant amount of money. Kneeland calls this a collective bargaining issue that the city may address with future health care plan options next year.

Overall Dave Yost calls Gahanna, a “tightly run ship” and “forward thinking,” and wishes more Ohio cities would run as efficiently.

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