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PTC wonders: get a new bubble for Kedron fieldhouse or wait?

It’s almost time for Peachtree City to replace the plastic “bubble” that’s erected over the Kedron pools to keep them open year-round.

The flexible plastic device, kept afloat by a pressurized air system, is near the end of its usable life,

though it has lasted 15 years so far, more than double the initially pitched seven-year lifespan that was originally projected.

The city has extended the facility’s life numerous times by using multiple patches and other repairs to keep it running. Now, the new bubbles are said to last 15 years, officials said.

“Oh, we could get 30!” said Councilwoman Kim Learnard.

The city might look at extending the bubble one more year, costing at least $2,500 for the necessary consultant to handle that work.

The estimated replacement cost, which includes a new air handling system, is $250,000, and that’s a significant chunk in a tight city budget.

The upshot on finances is that with the increase of various fees associated with the pools, including those for the recreational and high school swim teams, revenue this year is $48,000 ahead of the same point last year, officials said.

If the bubble weren’t replaced, the city also would most likely lose out on not just team rental revenue, but also birthday parties that rent a room at the Kedron Fieldhouse and also go swimming at the pool, officials said.

There is a possibility that bank financing might or might not be available, and there is a significant lead time involved in ordering the bubble because it is custom made, said Leisure Services Director Randy Gaddo.

Even if that’s the case, the city has ample cash to fund the purchase out of its reserves, which aren’t earning much interest, officials noted. Councilman Eric Imker said using cash would save the city a significant amount of money on interest payments.

Imker noted that the city has about $8 million in reserves and is planning on spending excess cash reserves over the next several years to reduce them to about 20 percent of the city’s annual budget.

Imker also noted that the discussion about whether the city should or should not even replace the bubble would have to take place at a future council meeting.

Council is expected to consider the matter at an upcoming meeting as staff reports further details about possible financing options.

Funding for the bubble is even included as a specific question in the ongoing online citizen survey on the city’s website.



and pay CASH for it.

I still don't understand why he "bubble," couldn't just be permanently affixed to the building until it completely wears out until the recession is over. Patch it if necessry!

I'll bet some of the odd-jobs guys out of work could beat the $2-300,000.00

vote last year to commit all reserves over the 20% to the loss in revenue from the SPLOST that is due to expire in a few years? If so, then how can it be spent on a bubble?

Don Haddix's picture

Councilman Imker said he wanted to see, and has stated so in the past, spending down some of the beyond 20%. The majority on Council never agreed to that idea. He was clear it was his thinking, not all of ours.

He never said we had a plan to spend down. In fact the 1.25 increase, in part, was to avoid spending any of the Reserve.

We have a new policy, pushed by Councilman Imker and approved 5-0, which I noted during this discussion but was not reported here, that says every expenditure must have a funding mechanism to be approved and we do not want to take on more debt. Reserves are for emergencies and unexpected shortfalls.

While not reliving the last Budget process, a slow usage of some of the Reserves on essential services while not spending more on non essentials or raising taxes beyond a one time .5 is something I supported, along with some non tax remedies. The funds from the SPLOST are running out. The $3-4 million beyond 20% is not a huge number for a Budget our size.

No, we did not commit all beyond 20% to replacing lost SPLOST funding uses to answer one poster's question.

Again, I urge all to fill out the Survey soon. Remind your friends and neighbors.

The Retreat, the kick off of the Budget process, is going to be in March or early April.

<cite><strong>Don Haddix
Peachtree City Mayor</strong></cite>

so where would the funding for the bubble come from, if not from the reserves or not from taking on more debt? Aren't those the only two options?

Don Haddix's picture

And therein lies the debate.

Do we wait and talk about a tax increase, find someone who would actual give a loan, yes that is debt, roll it into an existing Bricks and Mortar Loan, again debt, just use the Reserve, not replace it, or what?

As admitted by Councilman Imker, not a lot of PTC residents use it. But, from others on Council have come the issue of that is where schools practice, but that is a County issue, and it is an amenity for selling PTC, which becomes debatable since not a lot of residents use it.

The idea that we can rebuild the Reserve from future taxes, repaying it, isn't a good argument for me because the money used to repay could be used elsewhere instead to keep down overall expenditures. So that is in effect a tax increase.

The BOE has made it clear they do not have money to kick in. Neither does the County.

But, on the flip side, some argue reducing our amenities damage our city. As well is it an asset to use to get a larger share of the LOST?

Or do we go public private like we did with the Tennis Center?

Just trying to paint a picture of the the issues we will be debating.

There is no simple, easy answer here.

<cite><strong>Don Haddix
Peachtree City Mayor</strong></cite>

Mike King's picture

Sitting on your hands and waiting for a survey to act simply doesn't cut it! How long has the Council (you specifically) known about the requirement and sat idly by hoping the issue would simply vanish?

I realize that common business sense is not one of your strong points, but procrastination is not a tenet of leadership. Stop correcting Mr Imker while embarrassing yourself, and try to do a little team building.

If it's too late, think of what would be best for Peachtree City.

That's not the basis for having something or not, in my humble opinion. A majority of my neighbors don't use the cart paths, should we bulldoze them?

Don Haddix's picture

From the last numbers we saw it looked like around 5-7% use the pool at all with it breaking down to several hundred dollars per user in costs above and beyond fees brought in. Some use it rarely.

We have over 11,000 registered golf carts.

What is the basis for having or not having a specific amenity, if you do not mind sharing your thoughts? Do we have anything that we should not? What don't we have that we should?

Remember, on the summer pools we outsourced two to a private company because of lack of use. They now perform in the black. We outsourced the Tennis Center because it was so deep in the red. Operationally it is in the black.

Should we outsource the Aquatics Center because it is in the red fairly significantly?

What is the criterion for being an "acceptable" cost?

I don't want to bog down trying to resolve it here. Council will discuss many points and come to some kind of conclusion. All I am trying to point out is that we have to have some kind of demands and expectations when funding something.

All I am trying to point out is the issues and questions we face and that it is not something easy to answer. But we will have to at some point in time.

<cite><strong>Don Haddix
Peachtree City Mayor</strong></cite>

As a total outsider, I suggest that it is often smart to take the "80% solution" rather than fiddle while Rome burns (or in this case goes further in the hole). Without unlimited funds, you will never reach the "perfect" answer. Factually, few, if any, cities ever satisfy their total citizenry with all desired recreational activities without a guaranteed revenue stream. Make a decision! You just may be applauded for that--and if it turns sour, change it. Mistakes are human and when made in good faith, will be accepted by most.

I would like to think we could afford to keep the amenities we currently have, and keep them in good shape. I'm not advocating building new things right now.

I've said it before, it was the City offered that drew me here in the first place. I am already not happy with the way the cart paths, green belts etc are kept up since we let the 23 workers go...limbs remain down, areas generally unkempt that I didn't see before.

I don't use the pool myself, but I think it would be a loss to PTC to not keep it up.

Don Haddix's picture

That really is a false argument that letting them go caused the changes. What caused the changes was the reduction in funding levels.

We simply do not have the money to keep everything at the long gone Golden Days of income levels.

Time to look forward, not backwards, as to where we are going and how we get there.

We are looking at some new alternative approaches. Time will tell.

<cite><strong>Don Haddix
Peachtree City Mayor</strong></cite>

What drew most of us here was a "JOB" here! There aren't any now.

NUK_1's picture

I assume you mean just outsourcing the pool part? I don't know if there is a really a market for a public-private partnership to take on a pool, gyms, multipurpose rink and some meeting rooms all in one package. Tough sell, plus I don't think the other aspects are a money drain like pool operation, especially having the bubble trouble.

Unless the thinking is that user fees can be stacked high enough to where the Aquatic Center aspect isn't bleeding lots of money long-term(and that will be tough because user fees would have to really be high and that discourages use), it seems like the choices might be 1) Paying the 250K out of reserves or 2) Close it down.

This is an issue of a lot more substance and thinking than gas gold cart bans, tree moratoriums, who said or didn't say what about a future millage rate increase, etc.
Hey Don! That's why you make the BIG BUCKS! LOL.

PTC Observer's picture

It's hard to know without having the budget details. How far in the red is the Aquatics Center? What is the definition of "significantly"?

In my opinion, either the Aquatics Center is something the citizens of PTC want to pay for or it's not. We should determine what it will take to fund it through continuing property tax revenue and put it on the ballot.

If it is turned down by the voters, then it should be sold to a private concern. If that fails then it should be shutdown completely.

All of these ideas, aquatic centers, tennis center, etc. are good conceptually, but in reality they impact just a few of our citizens and the majority of the citizens get stuck with the bill.

If there is any one thing politicians can learn from the current fiscal crisis is that if a special interest group wants something, they should pay for it. The city can help clear the way and help them but ultimately the user of a service or product should pay for it. That's why I am so opposed to SPLOST as a revenue source for things like golf cart paths. Those too should be funded by the citizens of PTC, likely by using property tax. Although, a golf cart tax is a more direct way to assess use it is not all inclusive since people walk, skate, bike, etc.

Just my thoughts.

PTC Observer's picture

What am I missing in all this, if someone uses a product or service wouldn't you expect them to pay for it?

Why is this any different. If "amenitites" draw new people to the community and the property owners get a benefit, they should pay for it in their property taxes.

Or public/private with property owners and users paying for it.

Give the voters a choice which way they want to go on this deal. If they reject the property tax increase then it falls on the shoulders of the actual users. If it can't support itself it should be closed down.

To me this is a pretty simple decision.

MajorMike's picture

Do we currently charge the schools for use of the facility? If so, is it a discount rate? While I have never visited the facility, I am told that there are a lot of out of county tags in the parking lot during the summer. Are we charging (or even checking) these out of county folks for facilities paid for by PTC tax dollars and charging appropriately? I am vaguely reminded of the Kenwood park fiasco.

I am still concerned about R. Gaddo turning away revenue for this venue without Council input. I personally would like to see the gun show oportunity revisited.

Don Haddix's picture

No, we do not charge the schools nor have the desire to contribute. We have a fee schedule for swim teams that the teams/parents pay.

There is a higher charge for out of County and we do get a large number. We are also moving toward higher charges for non PTC County as the County only kicks in $114,000 for access to all our Rec.

On the gun I requested the issue be revisited. I also put the use policy on the Retreat for discussion.

PTC, County and non County have been issues ever since I have been on Council. I support a 3 tier fee schedule for Rec.

<cite><strong>Don Haddix
Peachtree City Mayor</strong></cite>

SPQR's picture


On the rare occasions that require direct public input a referendum is the correct tool. A survey might be a good marketing tool but it is not appropriate for government. One good reason is that it can be used as justification to abuse a minority.

DarkMadam's picture

I seem to remember a council meeting where the dismissal of 20 something employees had been referenced in a survey, and the council was ready to vote on the issue even before all the surveys were in. Why should anyone believe this will be any different?

Mike King's picture

While you're at it, set aside a portion of revenue generated by swim teams, etc to replace the thing in ten years or so. If revenue for the facility is up $48K, would someone please figure out where all the money has gone? Could it be that the Recreation Department has two six figure employees operating venues at a loss?

It seems to be a much higher priority for this Council to correct one another (.213 mils versus .5 mils) than to actually spend productive time attending to the people's business. Keep raising property taxes, maintain an anti-business environment, and by all means continue correcting one another and surely Peachtree City will have known its best years.

what is your suggestion to fund the replacement of the bubble? I certainly don't have the answer with the information provided here.

How about a corporate sponsorship? Picture this: SANY Swim Time splashed across the bubble in bright red letters. I'm kidding, of course.

Mike King's picture

Fix the bubble using reserve funds. Then actively seek a buyer for the facility. The sooner this venue is privatized, the better.

This eliminates city 'staffers' and does not disallow schools, etc to use the facility.

It can't be done, from what I read here. Seems it needs to be replaced for a mere 250k. I wonder who out there would purchase this even with this (new?) bubble on it. The fieldhouse would have to go with it, I assume.

Don Haddix's picture

Some have expressed interest in leasing the Fieldhouse, some the pool, but none both, so far.

Currently I have not seen any interest on Council for looking into those alternatives. Not saying that could not change in the future.

It is not under current consideration.

<cite><strong>Don Haddix
Peachtree City Mayor</strong></cite>

Are we just to give up running anything in Peachtree City? Because we can't?

With private ownership of every amenity because we refuse to do the work, we are at the mercy of what the corporations who run the facilities want to do.
It also would be disastrous to "keep" title to the facilities and just rent out the management. We would just get a whole passel of dudes like the "pros" we had running the Tennis Center---looking for opportunities!
(we still owe millions on that don't we? Hard to determine).

I can tell that a lot of "managers" around here have always dealt with other people's "capital," and have no idea how to manage it as if they own it. Kind of like the military operations.

I am afraid however, we my have no other choice! What we need is a City Manager form of government maybe.

Mayors should eat rubber chicken and councils hire City Managers!

ptctaxpayer's picture

"SANY SWIM TIME" on the Bubble!!! I love it...And ya gotta have a picture of Harold Logsdon with a frosty mug of beer, courtesy SANY. Maybe you can get Hooters on there too. Maybe that former law firm will sponsor it too like the Amphitheatre.

I vote for "World Airways Waterworld!"

NUK_1's picture

I'm afraid the City would have to buy two bubbles to get that sponsorship :)

Personally, I think the "Booby Bubble" might be rather uplifting!

Cyclist's picture

Yor are simply too much - booby bubble and uplifting. LOL!!!!!

Caution - The Surgeon General has determined that constant blogging is an addiction that can cause a sedentary life style.

just had one too many of them "Sling" thingys out there in Singapore! remember Kevin recommended backing off at 3!

Cyclist's picture

Those type of "Sling" thingys can only bring you a real world of trouble.;-) I stay far away from that stuff.

Caution - The Surgeon General has determined that constant blogging is an addiction that can cause a sedentary life style.

Its only money. Come on you tight wads, build a permanent structure with with an automatic roof and sliding glass doors on the sides for summer. That way it is good for life. It will be a good construction job for all those illegal mexicans that dont have much to do right now. The corporate sponsorship will still work

Don Haddix's picture

From the rough numbers we have seen that is $4-6 million. Depends on what you want in it and the pad size.

There are pluses and minuses to that idea. They are talking about potentially reopening the enclosed pool at Fairburn.

<cite><strong>Don Haddix
Peachtree City Mayor</strong></cite>

Am I wrong or did the guy just raise our taxes a whole bunch and told us it would be needed to balance future budgets? Now we're buying pool bubble with the money?

I read in the other newspaper where Fayette County was going to have to shut down the organization that feeds the poor every day due to the state and federal government closing off the money that had been paying for it.

Many of those people get their only meal of the day there!

I think $2-300,000 for a bubble could wait and use just a little of that money for those people.

Now, for those of you who don't want "out of county" people coming here to eat--even if hungry. I suppose we could ask for their "papers!"

Less than 1 million for a permanent structure. I hired a firm to put a proposal and estimate package together for the pool. The actual cost is around $900,000.00.

Was the name of that company: Wi, Cheatum, and Howe?

Bet a new WPA would do it for one tenth!

I assume certain temperature and moisture controls would also have to be purchased? Would corrosion proof steel be necessary?

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