St. Albans community to vote on new community pool, local option tax

ST ALBANS, Vt. (WCAX) One of the items on next week's Town Meeting Day ballot in St. Albans City and Town is a measure to build a new community swimming pool.

Artist's rendering

Covered in snow, it's hard to picture that the current St. Albans City pool brings in hundreds of people a day in the summer. But take a closer look and it's easy to see the wear and tear from 40 years.
On Tuesday, local residents will decide on building a new pool.

"I know it needs it desperately," said local resident Archie Bissonnette.

"I think it's a great idea," said Megan Conger.

The proposed pool would be located at the Hard'ack Recreation Area, would offer outdoor swimming in the summer, and would be covered with an inflatable dome in the fall, winter, and spring.

It's the first time St Albans City and Town have worked together on a capital project. Should the Town Meeting item pass in each community, they will split the cost of the $5 million project.

That has some residents concerned about who is actually paying for it. "I don't believe that -- money has to go come from somewhere," said Chris Costes of St. Albans.

"This is being paid for by the LOT, the local option tax," said Kelly Viens, St Albans' recreation director. "Citizens won't see an increase due to the pool."

St. Albans Town already has a local option tax, so voters there will just vote on paying their half of the project Tuesday. City voters will have two decisions to -- adding its own local option tax, and approving the $2.5 million share of the bond.

Viens says the 1% local option tax would be for meals and rooms. "The economist that we spoke with says that 70% of local option dollars come from outside of your community," Viens said.

Other revenue will come from membership fees which officials say will stay the same. "We want to replace our pool and enhance it, by making it year-round," Viens said.

And that can happen with upgrades like separate swimming areas for laps and people with different mobility and a dome that will cover the pool during the winter months.

Critics of the pool project say the money should go somewhere else, but Viens says the pool has been approved by the city council as one of a few projects getting funding from the local option tax. Others include a sidewalk project and programs for kids.

"Not every dime of this local option tax is going to go towards the pool," Viens said.

With no tax hike and chance to have an upgraded local pool, supporters of the idea say they are excited about the idea. "It will bring a lot to the town,"Conger said.

Officials at Branon's Pools, a local business with two indoor pools, said they don't support the project. In a statement, the business said the municipality should not be competing with a private company that is locally-owned.

Click here for more information on pool project.