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January 13, 2010 > Swim team fees set to increase

Swim team fees set to increase

By Dustin Findley

The current Tidal Waves fee is a flat $50 per month per swimmer for Milpitas residents. On November 18, 2009 the Finance Subcommittee recommended increasing the monthly tariffs for both residents and non-residents.

On January 5 City Council adopted a tiered fee schedule based on swimmer class, beginner, junior or intermediate, senior or advanced, and pool time.

The swim program costs the City $212,845 to run annually. Current revenue is $57,000, reducing City's subsidy to $155,845. Current cost recovery is 27 percent. Staff projects the fee increase and tiered schedule will lead to 40 percent cost recovery. This will entail increasing monthly fees for Beginners to $55 a month, Juniors to $65 and Seniors to $75.

Beginners spend an hour in the pool, juniors 90 minutes and seniors two hours. Beginners generally have more one-on-one time with staff because there are fewer swimmers.

Mayor Robert Livengood recalled the Council's decision to hire a full-time coach for the Tidal Waves in 2008.

"I believe Council at that time, a majority, said they were going to make the commitment for a full time coach and that probably meant an increase, at some point, in fees" said the Mayor. "When the decision was made Council did not know what the fees would be."

"The reason we're here is because we've enhanced this program," said Council member Armando Gomez.

Gomez stated that he believed many of the Tidal Waves participants wanted a swim program on a par with private organizations. The coach's salary and benefits account for more than $100,000 of the program's cost.

"I don't want to see this coach laid off due to lack of funds," said Councilwoman Debbie Giordano. "We've just completed a round of lay-offs within the City, so I think we need to work towards a common solution."

Parks and Recreation Services Director Bonnie Greiner estimates coach Jamie Chew spends about two-thirds of her time on the swim team.

Part of staff's justification for the fee increases was to make Milpitas' fees comparable to those in the City of Campbell which also subsidizes a swim team and other swim programs.

Six people addressed the Council during the public forum. They all opposed the fee increases.

According to members of the public, other swim programs in other cities have professional coaches with years of experience. Most of the parents who originally lobbied for a full-time coach for the Milpitas Tidal Waves have left for other swim teams.

One member of the public asserted staff's projection of 40 percent cost recovery assumes the swim team keeps the same number of participants but he believes that as the fee increases there will be fewer participants.

The coach and four assistants work with the maximum of 100 swimmers during practice. Livengood stated that the four assistants were necessary to safely manage that many swimmers.

Council voted to increase the non-resident fee to $40, paid in addition to the other fees.

"This is a good program and building it will take time," concluded the Mayor.

For more details of the Tidal Waves Aquatic Program, visit Milpitas Sports Center, 1325 East Calaveras Boulevard, Milpitas or call (408) 586 3225.

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