$10M toward an indoor pool?

One of the top options Sioux Falls city officials are considering in deciding how to spend nearly $10 million unexpectedly reimbursed from the federal government this fall is putting the money toward an indoor pool.

As if the use of the money didn’t cause enough stir. People have spoken strongly for using the money only to repay the bonds the city borrowed on the fed’s behalf when it fronted the money for upgrades of the levee system. Now it could be tied to a controversial pool project.

The city has been chased around trying to find a location for an indoor pool. The latest proposal – replacing the outdoor facility at Spellerberg Park – has become an issue on the spring ballot. Opponents of building an indoor pool there are instead asking voters to approve renovations of the outdoor facility.

The pool project is a $19.4 million expense laid out for 2014 in the mayor’s Capital Improvement Program. The city had planned to borrow more than $10 million in sales tax bonds for the project. Using the $10 million reimbursement could save between $4 million and $5 million in interest costs and fees, according to the city finance team.

The pool project was just one of the recommendations Finance Director Tracy Turbak laid out in a letter that went to city councilors Tuesday.

He said the best options for the money would reducing the amount of sales taxes needed for bond payments.

The city could also put the money toward principal and interest payments on the bonds taken out for the levee project in 2009. About $2.2 million a year would go toward the bonds until they are paid off in November 2019. Setting the money aside until the bonds can be paid off in full in 2018 is another option.

“It seems quite reasonable that the city would utilize these funds in a way that will mitigate the impact of debt service costs on our limited sales tax dollars,” Turbak said in the letter.

Other options he explored were applying the money toward other capital projects or placing the funds in a capital reserve to be used when bids for a project come in over budget. 

Here’s the letter: 

Debt Repayment.pdf