The Cherokee City Council will need to make some decisions this year or early next year regarding staffing changes in the Parks and Rec Department.
There will need to be added staff as the result of the new aquatic center, the retirement in February of the manager of the community center, Linda Peterson, and the city not having adequate janitorial staffing at the community center for a period of time.
There was discussion at the Tuesday council meeting about the coming changes but the only action item regarding staffing was the three to one decision to advertise for a full-time recreation-activity center director. Even that did not mean that the nature of the position has been decided.
How supervision of the aquatic center is handled could depend on who is available and the flexibility of potential staff - whether or not seasonal full-time work would be acceptable.
The one council member who voted against advertising for the position, Dwight Varce, stated that more research needed to be done before the position is advertised.
Aquatic center fund raising committee members have told council members repeatedly at meetings through the course of the project that based on research at other locations where a swimming pool was upgraded to an aquatic center that increased revenue offsets increased operating costs.
This does not mean that the aquatic center will make a profit, just that the net subsidy for operations will not likely increase beyond what it was for the old swimming pool. There is no guarantees as far as the number of users of the new aquatic center or the volume of sales at the concession stands.
John Cook, one of the co-chairs of the Bacon Aquatic Center/Gillette Park committee, told the council on Tuesday, that he could guarantee that the city would need to have a full-time director plus the equivalent of two or three full-time assistant positions staffed by adults.
In a related matter, the council tabled action on the possibility of advertising for a manager of the community center, a custodian or a manager/custodian, until a more specific job description is determined.
A matter on which the council members expressed consensus was that a custodial position did not need to be full time at the community center. The council also expressed consensus that the custodial position should not be left totally vacant for a prolonged period as it has been in the past.
"So many things are not getting done," Peterson told council members.
At the recommendation of Neal Kuehl of Kuehl and Payer, the engineering firm overseeing the Bacon Aquatic Center/Gillette Park project, the Council voted to approve $58,298 worth of change orders to the aquatic center.
He recommended holding off on one potential change order for $6,525 until exploration of the possibility that part of the expense would be absorbed by a subcontractor.
With the addition of $41,158 in previously approved change orders and the $6,525 that the council may subsequently approve in entirety or in part, the change orders total about $106,000, increasing the original bid amount for the aquatic center portion of the project from $2,828,000 to about $2,934,000.
Kuehl said change orders resulting from unexpected circumstances are typical for a construction project of this scope. He said the 3.75 percent increase from the change orders is reasonably small, especially considering that about $31,000 was the result of getting a lower price for the lap timing system after eliminating that as an alternate from the original bid.
Kuehl said the change orders were thoroughly hashed out by the committee members before the recommendations were made to the council.
Kuehl reported that he is pleased with the progress being made on the aquatic center.
The council approved purchase of a copier from Perkins Office Solutions for $1,799. Although the copier was $300 higher than the other of the two copiers bid, but the cost of operation would be higher for the other copier.
The Perkins copier needs replacement of the developer drum after 45,000 copies, that has to be done after 10,000 copies for the other copier.
The council authorized trying to sell the property at 343 East Cedar Street rather than demolishing it. The house is unsuitable for habitation as is, since the former owner had numerous diseased cats in the building.
Lee Ann Christensen, a Washington High School teacher, brought students who presented questions during the public forum portion of the meeting.
One question involved the timing of the stop lights on Highway 59 which appear to always cause a car to stop more than once.
It was noted that the light at Highway 59 and Main Street has variable timing based on traffic flow, so it will usually be out of sync with other lights.
Another comment was that it was an intentional decision in the past for safety reasons to avoid having traffic speed through town.