Nick McWilliams reporting – Feeling some financial pressure related to payroll, Uhrichsville is changing the days their water park will be open for the rest of the season.
This week, with real concerns over not being able to fulfill payroll of park staff, the city considered shutting down to prevent an overrun. However, Michael Maurer and Becky Carpenter from the auditor’s office determined the park could remain open through the rest of the week.
Mayor Mark Haney, who has long expressed concerns over the cost of the park and the difficulty in making money from it, said that due to being open more days this year, hefty maintenance bills, and some slow days, the city was faced with the situation of running down it’s budgeted dollars for the park.
“We try to call people off if we can if we think it’s going to be a slow day. These days, when we have 250 people, we’re not breaking even. We’re not even coming close to breaking even. And we’re never going to. This was a $4.5 million project, and the next year the city lost $250,000 in funding from the state.”
Haney says that before, with $1.5 million left over from the project, money was there when the park needed it, but that’s no longer the case after years of deficits, needed repairs and upkeep.
In order to combat the financial issues while still finishing out the season in some capacity, the city will change their schedule after a finance committee meeting, according to Councilwoman Amy Myers.
“We talked about it, and went back and forth, back and forth. And I said we could honor the nine parties that we have, and then the weekends. That’s what we came up with, so that’s where the $12,000 came from for the end of the year.”
Those extra funds will cover the rest of the payroll and operating expenses needed to remain open.
Councilman Matt Fox questioned park payroll expenses with street department staff, who are on site three times daily to test and apply chemicals on the water. He, along with Councilman Jim Zucal, had concerns over staffing totals of eight lifeguards on duty and other employees, especially on slower days.
Haney and Service Director Belle Everett said that the number of lifeguards to be posted came from the county health department, based on the size of the complex, and that decreasing the number of lifeguards would bring concerns of an incident that could lead to litigation.
For the rest of the year, outside of this Friday, the park will open only for Saturday and Sunday through Labor Day Monday. Hours will remain the same.
The park will be closed on August 19th due to known staffing shortages.
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