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Davis Journal

No bonding initiative for Rec Center on ballot this year

The outside pool at the South Davis Recreation Center is highly popular every summer. Photo courtesy of SDRC website

BOUNTIFUL—In an emotional meeting on Aug. 9, the South Davis Recreation District Board of Directors voted not to put a bonding initiative on this year’s November election ballot. The vote was 5-3 from the board to table the bond for about a year.

Board chairman Todd Meyers told the Bountiful City Council that the decision came after the board discussed proposing General Obligation Bonds to finance “in whole or in part the acquisition (including of land as required), construction, renovation and equipping of recreational facilities and field space” for improvements within the district. Last year, the District began studying improvements for the center, including a proposed second site in Woods Cross or North Salt Lake, and perhaps construction of a 50-meter pool. It was part of the SDRC’s Master Plan concept that it began in 2019 to address some restraints to the current building, pinch points of super high use, and the need for a new pool.

Meyer said the District is still trying to recover financially from the devastation that the COVID-19 epidemic caused for almost two years. In addition to revenues dropping dramatically while people stayed at home, the roof of the center had to be replaced. SDRC was closed for a period of time in 2020, and even when it reopened, many people did not return for months to the pre-COVID levels of participation. The center has a cash reserve, kind of like a rainy day fund, which was earmarked largely for repairs if needed, but much of that cash was used for maintenance and operations, leaving a negative balance in the reserve fund.

Bountiful City Councilmember Kate Bradshaw was appointed as the city’s representative on the board by new mayor Kendalyn Harris, and she has served since January. In her monthly newsletter to constituents, she posted numbers and graphs related to the SDRC operations, stating that “the current budget trajectory is just not sustainable and it cannot all be attributed to COVID or even inflation. Operations have grown over the life of the current facility and account for a greater increase than inflation over the same time period.”

She said that even when user fees were raised in July, which generated an additional $42,000, the budget deficit was “still a wide gap to address.”

Meyers said the district has been in communications with Davis County, the Davis School District and the five cities in south Davis County who are partners with the district, but added “we have not communicated well with Bountiful. We’ve never made Bountiful feel a part of the team, and we’re going to remedy that. I feel very positive that with a common sense approach we can work through these challenges and, as I said, get on more solid ground.”

That’s not to say the district is going under – not at all. Meyers said the board will work on a checklist, starting immediately, of things that need to improve, including a closer look at budgets and holding Truth in Taxation meetings when permitted by law next year. He said a list of priorities will be studied and reviewed, a sub-working group will be formed and more study about the possible location of a 50-meter pool will be conducted. 

Centerville City Councilmember Spencer Summerhays made the motion to table the bond at the board meeting, which Bradshaw supported along with three other board members. In her newsletter prior to the decision, she said that “I know that a pause on the master plan goals will be incredibly disappointing to some in the community, particularly those that competitively swim and are anxious for increased pool space. I want the District to succeed. However, to do that I think the first thing that has to happen is fixing the budget issue so that the delta between revenues and expenses isn’t so extreme.”

The Davis Journal will continue to report on this issue as it moves forward. λ