Ontario Oregon

The entrance to the Ontario Aquatic Center is pictured in 2019. While the Ontario Recreation District is aiming to eventually reopen the facility, they are still seeking additional funding from the city to keep it maintained once it is open. Argus Observer, file

Keeping Ontario, Oregon’s recent history regarding the closure of its municipal pool in mind, the Ontario City Council listened to a proposal from citizen Bob Boyd and Councilor Ken Hart regarding how the city might help keep the facility going once it is open again, according to the Argus Observer.

The city no longer owns the pool, having transferred ownership of it and related properties to the Ontario Recreation District after voters approved the formation of it in 2018. Prior to that, the pool had been closed since 2013 after maintenance costs became too prohibitive.

During public comment at the council’s meeting on Tuesday (Oct. 26), Boyd stated that the Recreation District is committed to bringing the pool back with funds from taxpayers, assistance from the city and a future fundraiser. He said plans are to complete it by the end of summer 2023 or sooner, stating that a community survey shows it as a top priority.

Boyd reminded members of the City Council that the reason the pool was closed previously was due to maintenance, stating that “it doesn’t make sense to build it with the danger of it closing.”

As such, he pitched a proposal to ensure operation in future years: a 1% increase in the city’s transient occupancy tax that could be split between the pool and Malheur County fairgrounds.

Later in the meeting, City Manager Adam Brown stated that the city’s current TOT tax is 9% and explained that it is split up in multiple ways in multiple funds. He explained that Councilor Ken Hart asked to see whether the fairgrounds and pool fit within “tourism-related activities,” as required by the Legislature for a 70/30 distribution for such funds.

Brown explained that the facilities are both something that pulls people into the city, stating as such he believed they were safely within the guidelines.

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