Mission Viejo is switching up how much the city pays to support the Nadadores swim team, increasing the total annual subsidy to $390,000.
The Mission Viejo City Council voted on Tuesday to shuffle which expenses are sent to the city and which are paid for by the Mission Viejo Nadadores Foundation.
The city paid for pool chemicals and utilities under a previous contract. That cost the city about $367,000 per year.
The approved contract shifts utility expenses to the Nadadores.
The city will now cover pool and locker room maintenance, janitorial expenses and pool chemicals — an increase of roughly $20,000 a year.
The Nadadores have paid $237,276 previously and now will pay $215,273 under the new contract.
Assistant City Manager Keith Rattay said during the meeting that the switch-up is mainly spurred by lessons learned during the pandemic.
“We learned during COVID that the city does a very good job of maintaining facilities, not just the Nadadores, but all of our city facilities,” Rattay said. “This really distributes it though that the Nadadores are paying a larger share of the utility expenses and in a more fixed way and the city is really taking on the ongoing maintenance, which we excel at.”
The vote passed 3-1-1, with Councilmember Cynthia Vasquez voting against the item and Mayor Brian Goodell abstaining.
Although Goodell didn’t give a direct reason why he abstained from the vote, both he and Rattay sit on the Nadadores Board of Directors, which brought up questions of transparency during the meeting.
“It may be legally fine for Brian to vote to support this funding,” Mission Viejo resident Cathy Palmer said during the public comment portion of the meeting. “But in terms of public perception, there might be some benefit in recusing from decisions that directly impact institutions that you’re very intimately involved with.”
The Nadadores operate out of the Marguerite Aquatics Complex, which was remodeled in 2018 and includes three swimming pools and two locker rooms.
“I see the Nadadors as the jewel in the crown of Mission Viejo,” Councilmember Trish Kelley said during the meeting. “We’re very fortunate to have this club here. And I think the contract looks good, it looks fair and I heartily support it.”
Councilmember Bob Ruesch said the cost is worth it.
“Does it cost money? Yes, everything costs money,” Ruesch said. “But I think we get tremendous value for the money that I’m seeing here — on top of a first-class organization that supports our residents, many of which I’m sure are right now in front of us.”
Vasquez still had more questions about the proposed contract when a motion was called for the vote.
“It’s not a debatable motion,” said Kelley, who called for the vote.
Vasquez didn’t give a direct reason why she voted against the item, but said she was trying to bring the public’s attention to the contract.
“It’s unfortunate that there are times when certain individuals don’t choose to take the time to take more care,” Vasquez said after the vote.
Councilmember Wendy Bucknum quickly replied that all the council members care about the city.
“To say that the rest of us don’t care is an absolute insult. It is absolutely incorrect.”
Angelina Hicks is a Voice of OC Reporting Fellow. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @angelinahicks13.
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