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October 23, 2008 3:00 am

Sletten breaks ground for new aquatic center

Written by Tribune Staff

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Jake Thiel, project engineer for Sletten Construction, looks out over the aquatic center site at Homesteader Park on Friday. Crews began digging for the new pool last week. Tribune photo by Carla Wensky

Cap tax funding for project ahead of schedule

Sletten Construction crews began digging at the new aquatic center site in Homesteader Park last Thursday.

Construction for the project is expected to take a little more than a year.

Shawn Warner, president of Sletten Construction, said the recent snowstorm delayed starting the excavation by a few days.

The original contract set Nov. 1, 2009, as the completion date for the new aquatic center, but an extension of eight or nine weeks is expected, according to Project manager Nancy Ronto of Burbach Aquatics, Inc.

The Powell City Council reviewed value engineering for the aquatic center, which delayed Sletten's start date by about eight weeks.

With the extension, a January 2010 completion date is expected, Ronto said.

Warner said he is excited about the project and added that everything looks like it is right on track.

Revenue for the project through the capital facilities tax is coming in steadily, said City Finance Director Annette Thornington.

To date, nearly $6.2 million has been generated for the aquatic center through the tax.

The best month recorded yet was last month, when $546,423 was received for the project. It takes about two months for the city to receive the extra penny tax funds, so September's collection reflects July's revenue, Thornington said.

At this pace, Thornington said the project could be fully funded by August 2009 —eight months ahead of the 36-month projected timeline.

However, with the current financial crisis in the national economy, Thornington said it's hard to predict.
“I don't know with our current financial situation,” she said.

The national financial crisis has affected the fund's interest rate. The cap tax money goes into a fund that receives 15 percent less than the Federal Reserve rate. Recently, the Federal Reserve fell to 1.5 percent, the lowest since August 2004. That means the pool funding account only earns 1.35 percent.

In May 2007 when capital facilities tax funds were first generated, the Federal Reserve rate was 5.25 percent, so the account earned 5.1 percent.

So far, the city has spent $891,925 of the capital facilities tax funds on the aquatic center. Of that amount, $891,460 went toward the architect and the other $465 went to The Powell Tribune for a bid advertisement.

The city has spent some of its own funds toward the aquatic center, including $14,825 for an electrical transformer, $2,900 for installing the underground power source, $13,707 for construction site details, such as the road entry, and $1,750 to move trees.

Burbach Aquatics, Sletten Construction and city officials will meet again this month and on a regular basis as construction continues.