The Bethel City Council has approved a non-binding agreement to share use of the Old Armory Gym with the Lower Kuskokwim School District. However, there is a catch.
The council unanimously decided to approve a memorandum of understanding to share use of the gym with LKSD… just not how to pay for it.
At the last regular meeting Bethel Mayor Joe Klejka said the agreement has that caveat.
“We aren’t picking up half the cost of the facility unless we designate the funds that are needed to operate the facility,” Klejka said.
So if the city can’t find the money, the city will back out of the agreement.
Klejka laid out a couple of options on how the city could pay to use the gym, an estimated cost of anywhere between $40,000 to $80,000 annually for the city.
“We should have two different proposals: one that just comes up with a budget modification that we just use city funds to cover the cost and another one that goes the route of what we would have to do to access the funds for the pool money,” he said.
That pool money comes from a city sales tax implemented a few years ago that collects funds for the Yukon Kuksokwim Regional Aquatic Health and Safety Center, formerly known as the BATH center or the Bethel Pool Project.
Klejka is on record saying he supports dipping into the pool money, because it’s been deemed by council for recreational use.
Not everyone on council agrees with him, though.
“I’m personally not in favor of using BATH Center money for this because that money was collected from tax payers for many years for a specific purpose,” Council Member Rick Robb said.
In order to access the pool money, council would have to change an ordinance, something that could take more than one meeting.
With community groups such as basketball and roller derby leagues clamoring to use the gym, the city wants to resolve the issue sooner rather than later.
The LKSD School Board will look at the agreement at it’s meeting on December 7th and decide whether or not to approve it.
Council will likely hold a special meeting to talk about funding soon thereafter.
Then it will be up to the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs to approve final leasing agreements.