WEATHER IN LINCOLN COUNTY

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Group of Newport appointees charting future of million dollar fund for tourism facilities, and whether recreation center and pool should be privatized.

Recreation Center, top, Pool, bottom

The Newport City Council has appointed seven residents to examine whether and how the Newport Pool and Recreation Center might be managed for less cost, while keeping current service levels the same. The committee will be trying to figure out if a private company or a non-profit might be able to pull off such an arrangement. What hasn’t been made clear is whether whoever or whatever takes them over would be responsible for the cost of maintaining both facilities and whether they’d have to do it with the money the city is willing to give them or would the city remain on the hook for the maintenance and upkeep.

Appointed to the task force was Fred Springstein, Vincennes University, Ed Simon, Parks and Recreation Committee, Pat Cowan, School Admininstrator, Jeff Schrantz, insurance, Phil Jackson, Coast guard, Thomas Hurst, NOAA Biologist and Josie Bissell, Safeway Manager.

The committee has until sometime in November to study the two facilities’ operations and to review various operating models that would help the city council determine whether the city could save money by privatizing their operations, again, with an eye to keeping service levels at their current base, for less money. The council said it wants the information in time to determine whether the two facilities should be privatized in time to make corresponding changes in the city’s 2012-2013 budget planning period which begins shortly after the first of the year.

Privatization of such facilities have had mixed results over the years, largely depending on the monitoring and enforcement of prescribed service levels and how operating and maintenance expenses are covered in contract agreements.

The council also appointed another task force to assess Newport’s tourism related organizations and determine which of them should be granted a part of the city’s million dollar “tourism facilities” fund. The Oregon Coast Aquarium, the Marine Heritage Museum and others have already expressed a strong interest on using some of those funds to bolster their programming and facilities. The city and the county, at one point, were talking about teaming up to produce a large convention center or special events “expo” at the county fairgrounds in Newport, but that vision has apparently faded.

Appointed to the Tourism Facilities Task Force was Caroline Bauman, economic development coordinator, John Lavrakas, businessman, Julie Hanrahan, manager of West Coast Bank, Dan Rowe, Tracy Wiley, Embarcadero Resort manager, Ann Aronson, and one vacancy.

The council says it wants guidance on how to allocate some or all of the fund to create facilities, or add onto already existing facilities, to create the maximum tourist draw to the area. The fund was created mostly by room tax funds collected from local hotel and motel properties.

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