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September 2015 Edition
Focus Topic: Budgeting for 2016

Macomb County swim club settles disability act dispute

A Macomb County swim club has reached a settlement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office after allegations that it violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by not tweaking its policy to accommodate a disabled swimmer, and then retaliating against her and relatives, officials announced Friday.

According to the complaint, the Lakers Aquatic Club of Harrison Township and St. Clair Shores suspended the family and the swimmer — who has autism — for requesting a modification so she could continue to participate in its activities, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a statement.

The club offers training and practice groups for swimmers “of all ages and ability levels,” according to its website.

The Americans With Disabilities Act requires swim clubs and other places of public accommodation to make reasonable modifications in their policies for the disabled. It also prohibits retaliation against those who exercise their rights under the act.

Under the agreement, the swim club is expected to adopt a disability nondiscrimination policy Read the rest of this entry »

Scott’s Intro From Washington DC

Scott Camp recorded this quick introduction while visiting our nation’s capitol

Andy’s Corner – Budgeting for Future Repairs

Top 5 Budget Busters

Budgets……we all hate them, but unfortunately we need them in order to properly maintain our facilities.  Aquatics budgets are no different, and in fact , can be essential to making sure your pool stays fully operational and safe for your swimmers.  While there are obvious expenses that can be identified in any aquatics budget, there are sleepers out there that can throw the proverbial “hitch in the giddy-up.”  Let’s take a look at my top five (5) budget busters……

1.      Re-Finish:  Standard plaster pool finishes do have a life span.  Here in the Midwest for outdoor pools that have chemically balanced water, if you get 10 years out of your finish you are doing a good job.  BUT…..are you setting aside cash in your operating budget every year for the eventuality that the pool will need to be re-finished?  Typically the last two years leading up to a re-finish you will also incur costs in patching to get you to the finish line.  Re-finishing a pool is the single largest re-occurring expense that you will incur after a pool is built.  Open an account and make sure to save dollars every operating season to take the sting out of this large expense when it finally comes home to roost.

2.      Water & Sewer:  Do you have leaks?  Do you have an auto-fill?  If you have the second, you probably do not know that you have the first.  We have talked about the bucket test before and you should be performing one at the beginning and end of every season.  Water and sewer cost is one of the single biggest contributors to a busted budget for a pool….especially if you don’t know you have a leak.  The last surge tank I replaced was not discovered as being leaky until the end of the season when the Owner had to reconcile and excess $45,000 in water/sewer costs that had never been there before.  This says nothing about the chemicals he went through that year.  Bucket test people….bucket test.

3.      Media Changes:  Traditional high rate sand filters have media that will last from 7-10 years.  Read the rest of this entry »

GoPro Captures Scary Waterslide Incident

This article/video was originally published in Aquatics International. If you are under any pressure to reduce lifeguard levels or cut training in your 2016 budget show your manager this video.

The video begins innocently enough. A brother strapped a GoPro camera to his head and started recording as he and his sister, along with two others, took off down a water slide tunnel at a Center Parcs resort in Woburn Forest, Bedfordshire, United Kingdom.

Then suddenly, Math Smith’s 16-year-old sister drops out of the frame. She’s fallen off the raft.

Matt quickly runs back up the tunnel to help his sister, who can be heard moaning and is seen with her eyes closed. The family calls for help, lifeguards step into action, she is placed on a spinal board as a precaution and is treated at a local hospital, where she is told she sustained minor bruises.

Ultimately, Rea was fine, and Matt applauded the lifeguards’ response to the incident. What is significant about this incident is not that it happened but that we are able to watch it happen

Budgeting for a City-Owned Pool

Captain Aquatic is taking his annual post-summer vacation. He mentioned the Outback. That might mean communing with aboriginals in Australia or steak and unlimited shrimp. Either way, we are stuck doing actual research. Thus, we’ve been binge-watching “Parks and Recreation” on Netflix in order to understand the city budgeting process.

Call this month’s column, “A Dummies Guide to City Budgets.” Because whether you are employed by a city pool or contracted to perform a project for a city, it helps to know where that money is coming from and who else is competing for it.

First, how does a city get its money to spend? A city will get money from taxes, a large variety of fees, municipal bonds, fines levied on citizens who were enjoying their dessert so much that they forgot to run outside and put another quarter in the parking meter, and depending on the state, some money from a higher level of government.

Typically, half of this money is earmarked for specific functions. These may include services such as water, trash collection and processing, wastewater, a golf course, etc. Again, this depends on the services a city provides. Everything left over is termed the “general fund.” The general fund is usually about half of a city’s total operating budget, and that’s where all of your property tax and sales tax money ends up. A large percentage of your city council’s job is deciding how to spend the money from this general fund.

If your aquatic facility is dependent on a portion of the money from this fund, you have your work cut out for you. Read the rest of this entry »

How Google Impacts Your Revenue

You may not be aware of this but Google has the ability to significantly impact the revenue for your aquatics facility. Read on to learn more…

Some of you are old enough to remember when promoting your aquatics programs meant putting an ad in the local newspaper, sending out some direct mail and making sure that your Yellow Pages ad was current. If you needed more revenue you would just spend a little more on advertising.

But over the past 10 years everything has changed. Newspaper readership is almost non-existent and the Yellow Pages goes straight to the recycle bin the moment they deliver it to your door. If you want to be relevant to today’s consumers you have two battle grounds; social media and Google. I’ll deal with social media in a future article but in this one I’ll focus on Google.

Here’s a screen shot of what you find when you search on “swim classes in Lansing”.

Notice the map of Lansing and listings underneath it for East Lansing Hannah Community Center, Westside Community YMCA and Oak park YMCA. From that list you would think that only three aquatic centers offer swim lessons in the Lansing area. But that isn’t even close to being true!

This is one of the ways Google is directly impacting your revenue. If you are not in the top three listings for important keywords (like “swim classes in Lansing”) potential customers will not see your listing and they will not learn about your programs.

Read the rest of this entry »

Increase Revenue: Glow in the Park

by Nate Traylor – originally published in Aquatics International

After-hours events can boost revenue and attendance. Here’s how to give your waterpark a nightlife.

Why does the fun have to stop when the sun goes down? For many waterparks, it doesn’t.

Operating late into the night not only generates revenue by extending the hours people can rent cabanas and buy food and merchandise, but it also can give guests an entirely new way to experience the park. Feet aren’t burning on pavement, there’s no need to slather on the SPF, and there’s an added thrill that comes with sliding under the night sky.

Plus, certain things just work better after dark. As Jim DeBerry puts it: “A juggling flame-thrower just isn’t going to work as well during the day.”

DeBerry is the general manager of Wild Waters Water Park in Central Florida. By day, it’s a quaint family-oriented attraction that pulls in visitors from the adjacent Silver Springs State Park, which is world renowned for its glass-bottom boats. By night, it’s a more festive affair, drawing both college-age crowds and retirees looking to get their nocturnal kicks.

“We give it more of a Jimmy Buffet, Caribbean feel,” DeBerry says. “It’s definitely a different atmosphere.”

The park’s Rockin’ Summer Nights programming includes headliners such as Chain Reaction, billed as the “ultimate Journey tribute band,” a magic show, tug-of-war contests and many more activities to keep guests wet and amused until 2 a.m.

Families thin out around sunset as young adults and moneyed VIPs trickle in. That trickle turns into a flood of thrill seekers who are plunking down serious cash on concessions. Cabana rentals are booked and the concierge service is hopping.

“These are individuals who are buying $100 bottles of champagne, whereas the people during the day are buying $20 meals,” DeBerry says. “The revenue stream at night is fantastic.”

While after-hours events can do wonders for a park’s bottom line, there are many things to consider before pulling an all-nighter. Read the rest of this entry »

Bears in the Backyard Pool

The summer heat lead to a lot of news reports of bears enjoying backyard pools. This one happened in Rockaway Township New Jersey. This is the full 11 minute video recorded by the family.