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City budget deliberations lead to decision to expand summer swim season in Sunnyside

The Sunnyside City Council continued its 2010 budget deliberations at a special meeting last night.

Members of the city's parks and recreation committee were on hand to give input on that part of the budget.

First and foremost on that group's list was for the city to keep the pool open for 10 weeks instead of the eight weeks the pool was open this year. The pool costs the city approximately $151,000 to operate. Sunnyside Interim City Manager Jim Bridges told the council the pool generates just under $41,000 in revenues. The biggest cost in operating the pool is heating it.

Opening the pool one week earlier and keeping it open one week later will add approximately $30,000 to the pool's cost.

Members of the committee cited safety reasons for keeping the pool open longer. They believe if the city's youth aren't given a place to swim they will find it somewhere else, usually in the form of a canal.

The council was also told the committee has only met once since its inception nearly a year ago. Committee member Bob Sarmiento told the council the committee met once and then found out the parks and recreation budgets had been gutted.

"We haven't been called since," he said.

Sunnyside Mayor Paul Garcia directed that the committee start meeting regularly again. Council also directed city staff to budget for a 10-week swim season in 2010.

Sunnyside Fire Chief Aaron Markham discussed his proposed budget with the council last night, as well. He spoke about certain items that are above the line in usual costs.

One of these was a request for new bay doors at the fire station. Markham said the doors are 22 1/2 feet long and the hinges supporting these doors have cracks around them. The controllers that operate the doors are also aging and need replaced. The cost for the replacement of the doors and controllers is estimated at $23,000.

Markham is also requesting a vacant position be filled at the fire department. He wants to hire a battalion chief/fire marshal. This, he told the council, would allow the fire department to catch up on the city's fire inspections, which he estimated is behind by 50 percent.

When the city had a full-time fire inspector approximately 482 inspections were done in a year. Approximately 280 are done a year now. This would also help maintain the city's fire prevention rating, which is how fire insurance rates are determined.

The salary of such a position would be between $60,000 and $72,000.

Council wanted more information on how much money hiring a fire marshal would save the citizens in Sunnyside. Markham told the council he would get back to them with those numbers.

Markham is also requesting $5,600 for new personal protection equipment. He wants to buy new boots for his firefighters with this money. The new boots are more comfortable and last longer than the current boots the city's firefighters wear. The new boots can also be rebuilt when they break down.

The council will continue to go over line items in the 2010 preliminary budget on Tuesday, Nov. 17, at 6:30 p.m. Another meeting is planned for Thursday, Nov. 19, at 6:30 p.m., as well. Both meetings will take place at the Sunnyside Law and Justice Center.

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