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MAC to go out for levy

In November election

   The Madras Aquatic Center has announced its intention to go out for a special operating levy in the November election.
   The district will seek an additional 40 cent per $1,000 tax levy to support pool and recreation district operations. The aquatic center is currently operating on a 25 cent per $1,000 levy, passed along with the construction levy in 2004.
   "We've been struggling, really since day one," said Bobby DeRoest, MAC general manager. "When they passed the pool, they knew the operation was going to be a stretch. We've been very creative trying to find other revenue streams."
   The MAC Board of Directors, which has spent months studying the situation, will be looking for people to form a political action committee to support the MAC's efforts. Those interested can contact the pool at 541-475-4253.
   "If we wish to maintain our current programs, offer full-year usage of the pool, and include the programs for the recreation district, our current funding is not sufficient," said Steve Hillis, board member.
   The levy would generate about $240,000 per year for the MAC district's operations.
   "It's going to enable us to expand and make robust our recreation services outside of the facility and keep the pool open all year," said DeRoest, noting that without a new levy, the district has already forecast a five-week closure for next spring.
   Over the past year, the MAC district benefited from a one-year $75,000 grant from the Bean Foundation to assist with development of a recreation department, under the guidance of Steve Keever, MAC program director.
   Due to the success of the recreation program, the Bean Foundation has committed to another five years of steadily reduced funding: $60,000 for the current year; $50,000 for 2013-14; $40,000 for 2014-15; $20,000 for 2015-16; and $10,000 for 2016-17.
   "We're confident that the economy's going to improve enough that after five years, we won't have to do it again," said Hillis. "It makes the aquatic center accessible to a wider range of our community."
   "The Bean Foundation wants to ensure that we're working toward creating a self-sufficient recreation department," added DeRoest.
   At the same time, the MAC board is seeking a full-time operations manager, and is in the process of reviewing more than two dozen applications.
   Hillis explained that the position is not a new position. "When our general manager left (in 2008), we tried to save money and have Bobby take over all the general managing, as well as coaching," he said. "It's just too much for one person to do. That's why we're looking for this full-time position."
   In the meantime, the board hired an aquatic supervisor to assist DeRoest, but that position was eliminated July 1 as the board put out a request for applications for the general manager position.
   "We're being fiscally responsible with staffing," said DeRoest. "Nobody's gotten a raise since we opened."