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Miami Springs considering shutting down public swimming pool

 

Special to the Miami Herald

Miami Springs’ leaders held a special meeting on Sept. 16 to discuss closing the city’s popular swimming pool to save money.

“When we make a commitment for the budget, there are practical things you have to do,” Councilman Billy Bain said. “If you are going to shut it down from October to March, understand what the options and expense will be to open back up in the summer.”

By shutting the pool down for six months, the city could save thousands of dollars, according to City Manager Ron Gorland.

“About $48,000, if we leave the pool filled for six months,” Gorland said at the Sept. 16 meeting. “And $60,000 if we drain the pool and shut off the pumps.”

A few residents caught word of the potential pool closure and attended the meeting to voice their concerns.

“I am not OK with the city even thinking about shutting this pool down without a plan in effect,” said Melissa Bennetti, who added that her children frequent the pool. “I don’t complain when my property taxes increase.”

Another mother spoke on behalf of her kids at the 6 p.m. meeting to persuade leaders to leave the pool open year-round.

“I see kids jumping off the diving board throughout the whole year,” said Yvonne Amor, who pointed out that her children learned to swim in the city pool. “They swim past October, and way before March.”

One official said he thinks that giving only two weeks’ notice may not be enough.

“Oct. 1 happens in two weeks,” Mayor Zavier Garcia said. “There should be a workshop or a special meeting to discuss it.”

City leaders approved a tentative 2013-14 budget with a 3-2 vote on Sept. 9. Council members Bain and Jaime Petralanda voted against it. The Miami Springs City Council set the maximum tax rate at $7.6995 for every $1,000 of assessed taxable value.

If that rate is adopted, it would be 10.15 percent higher than this year’s rate of $6.99.

“This is how things get started,” Bain said. “You make a controversial statement and motivate the people in this community to help us.”

The final public hearing and approval of the budget will take place on Monday, Sept. 23, at 7 p.m. at city hall.

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