Strasburg town pool lost $90,172 this summer

The Strasburg town pool reported a hefty net loss of $90,172 for the financial year, well beyond the losses of any other community pools in the area.

In several information requests to the city of Winchester, the towns of New Market, Mount Jackson, Edinburg, Woodstock and Strasburg, along with both Frederick and Warren County, The Northern Virginia Daily aggregated data on the public pools in the area.

Strasburg’s net loss is followed in size by Mount Jackson’s $27,825 deficit and New Market’s roughly $14,000 deficit.

The net loss in Strasburg includes the town’s purchase of a $17,000 climbing wall for the pool in July.

Strasburg Finance Director Dottie Mullins stated in an email that the tough financial year comes from mechanical problems sustained by the pool.

“Our facility is more than 50 years old with no major renovations being done since 1991,” she said. “This year we experienced several major breakdowns, which caused us to close for some extended periods of time, which then took away from our daily receipts and increased our operating costs.”

According to data Mullins provided, the town spent $60,799.91 during the fiscal year on salaries and wages, by far its heaviest expenditure before the $14,507 spent on repairs and equipment and $8,237 spent on materials and supplies.

Most town managers and finance directors said they aren’t surprised about the amount of losses, as pools are generally not profitable enterprises.

For instance, Mount Jackson Town Manager Kevin Fauber said most towns offer pools as a public service with the understanding that they will need to dip into towns’ general funds to stay afloat.

“I would suspect that most pools do lose money,” he said. “It’s a service that’s provided by the town, and the excess expenditures over revenue is absorbed through the general fund of the town.”

He said pools provide an important recreational service to the town, especially among the young and the elderly who use the pool for swim teams, exercise classes and summer outings.

Per the data collected by The Northern Virginia Daily, the outdoor pool at Jim Barnett Park was the only profitable pool of the nine public pools in the area, turning a profit of $9,228 for the summer season.

While it came up in the red losing around $5,300, Edinburg’s town pool performed best within Shenandoah County. Finance Director Michelle Heier said most town pools end up losing money, but the town worked to keep its aquatics budget tight.

“We are a small town and we try to keep our costs down as much as possible,” she said.

Contact staff writer Jake Zuckerman at 540-465-5137 ext. 152, or jzuckerman@nvdaily.com.