Higher costs, higher profits for pool

Keeping Hinsdale Community Pool staff home during bad weather last season helped offset increased expenses in other areas, according to village officials.

At the village’s parks and recreation commission meeting Feb. 13, Mike Hayes, superintendent of parks and recreation, told commissioners that a concerted effort to cut staff hours during times of inclement weather last summer saved the village $30,000.

“If I wake up in the morning and it’s raining from 9 a.m. to noon, I’m going to call the staff and be like, ‘All right, we’re going to rock and roll starting at 1 o’clock for the day,’ ” Hayes said.

That strategy combined with strong sales of annual passes, particularly to nonresident patrons, helped pool profits surge to an estimated $26,000 in 2023, the highest in six seasons. Neighborly pass sales, available to residents in 11 nearby communities, rose from 790 in 2021 to 868 last year. Resident pass sales dipped from 1,589 in 2022 to 1,500 last year, which Hayes attributed in part to more Hinsdale homes being built with pools.

“Our neighboring networks support our pool,” Hayes stated. “Our revenue did increase with nonresident pool passes.”

Commissioner Heather Hester said she wants there to be an appropriate balance between resident and nonresident users.

“I do think that we want to evaluate that every year as far as how many people we are getting from our own community and from the neighborly,” Hester said. “We want to make sure that we’re serving our residents and that we don’t get overcrowded in the pool.”

On the expense side, operating costs have risen from $297,111 in 2021 to $414,036 last year. That included an outlay of $37,061 for general maintenance items such as repairs to the dive well fall pad, drain cover replacements and painting the baby pool decking, mushroom and slide.

Another factor was the “outrageous” spike, in Hayes words, in the cost of pool chemicals, which bloomed to $32,523 last year, more than $14,000 higher than in 2021. Hayes said cost-saving methods will be explored by the village this season, such as incorporating cyanuric acid to help the chlorine last longer.

“It is a very, very busy pool. We open at 5:30 in the morning and we go to 9:30, in some cases, 10 o’clock at night,” Hayes said, citing the various groups that utilize the facility outside public swim times. “The more people you have using your facility, the more chemicals you’re going to use, as well.”

Heavy use also can result in a drop in cleanliness, which feedback from 2022 patron survey made clear, Hayes related. In response, custodial service costs were increased from $2,150 in 2022 to $5,189 last year. Another $10,000 is budgeted for 2024. Strong town swim team participation translated to $22,301 in revenue, a jump from the $15,877 in 2022. Private lesson proceeds sagged to $9,943 from $23,714 in 2022, however. Hayes said staff availability for private lessons is often a challenge, and suggested better communication with staff is part of the solution.

About 60 percent of the staff is expected to return in 2024, he reported, and visitors will see improvements including new lounge chairs, life jackets and storage rack, a repaired and repainted wood structure near the baby pool, and an updated ADA lift and portable steps.

Hayes said a possible concessions provider has been identified, and an agreement is still being finalized.

Author Bio

Ken Knutson is associate editor of The Hinsdalean