3 Watertown lawmakers in favor of using savings for Thompson Park pool despite risks

Thompson Park pool discussion

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - Watertown lawmakers in favor of the Thompson Park Pool project say they are willing to pay for the entire thing using the city's savings, but some city officials are concerned.

Lawmakers met Monday night to talk about the options.

Council members Cody Horbacz, Lisa Ruggiero, and Ryan Henry-Wilkinson say they are still in favor of the project.

"I like the look of this as this is a destination place," Ruggiero said. "This is something to build on, this something to attract people to the city that are going to want to live here, that are going to want to work here, that are going to want to play here. "

To continue to pay for the pool with borrowed money, lawmakers would have to change what’s called a bond ordinance, but it looks as if there aren’t the four votes needed for that.

But with three votes, lawmakers can take money from the city's $10.1 million fund balance to pay for the entire $3.1 million project, something that officials say could hurt Watertown's credit rating.

City manager Rick Finn says the city has already has gotten a warning.

"One of the reasons that they said they left our credit rating the way it was is because of the strong fund balance," he said. "There is no question that's what saved the city was that."

Horbacz, Ruggiero, and Henry-Wilkinson tell 7 News that if it comes down to it, they would be willing to vote to use city savings for the project.

"This splash pad is not a replacement for a pool," Horbacz said. "We need the bath house, we need the bathrooms, we need them year round. If there is one pool in the city of Watertown that's where it should be. "

Meanwhile, Mayor Joe Butler and council member Sarah Compo do not favor changing the bond ordinance or using savings.

"I just don't know how you can make a decision when you are the steward of our city's resources and you know that it's going to unravel and damage our financial condition," Butler said.

The council didn't take any action Monday and meets again next Monday.

If lawmakers accept any of the bids for the project, they have to do it by September 8.

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