Difficult times call for creative solutions, and the city's pool committee is doing its share of "thinking outside the box."
At the Dec. 2 meeting of the White Salmon City Council, pool committee member Greg Hohensee outlined an intriguing approach to finding revenue for the city-owned pool -- and the council members approved the plan.
The new concept calls for the use of what are being called "pool bucks" -- in which ticket holders can pay for use of the pool, lessons, and even vending items sold at the office.
Pool bucks would be printed tickets similar to what the Port of Hood River has used for motorists crossing the toll bridge. Proponents of the idea believe use of the tickets would: reduce administration time at the pool as well as at City Hall; stimulate spending for vending items at the pool; help track donor dollars providing community access to the pool; reduce losses through theft or abuse of season passes; and increase marketing opportunities and exposure for the pool and pool supporters.
The current proposal calls for pool bucks to be sold in packets, with 10 or 20 tickets costing 85 cents per pool buck ($8.50 for 10 tickets; $17 for 20). Each pool buck would be worth $1 in purchase of goods or services related to the pool.
The more pool bucks someone purchases up front, the greater the discount. For example, 200 pool bucks would cost $140 -- a potential savings of $60.
Hohensee also noted that the pool bucks operation will help put a focus on the businesses that are actively supporting the pool.
"The sponsor/donor will purchase the pool bucks at face value, and will have a choice of how they would like to distribute them," Hohensee explained. "For business sponsors, the pool marketing plan can drive pool patrons to the individual patrons to pick up pool bucks. This will hopefully help highlight and support the local businesses that support the parks and pool. Sponsors may also choose other distribution methods, or let the pool committee distribute the pool bucks."
City Council member Bob Landgren praised Hohensee's approach to pool funding.
"Greg is to be commended for the extra time and effort and his ideas to look for other ways to fund the pool and take it out of the general fund," said Landgren.
Landgren added that he wants to move forward with the proposals immediately.
"The pool committee wants to get started by the first of the year," Landgren said.
Hohensee said he was hopeful it could be even sooner than that.
"We want those pool bucks in kids' stockings on Christmas morning," Hohensee quipped.
City attorney Ken Woodrich said he did not see any legal troubles with setting up the pool bucks system.
"It's a fundraising tool, it's not a legal issue," Woodrich explained. "There might be some security issues, but I think it sounds like a terrific idea -- very out of the box."
"It's kind of a change in what we've been doing. I think it's a great opportunity for the pool and the parks," he said.
Council member Mark Peppel pointed out that the pool bucks could also serve to be a vehicle for those wanting to make a donation to support the pool.
"People don't have to use them. People could buy them just to help, as a donation," Peppel explained.
Council member Leana Johnson was also supportive of the new approach.
"The logistics need to be worked out, but as ideas go, it's a good one," Johnson said.
The council members voted 5-0 to OK the pool bucks proposal.