Payette Pool

Kurt Folke, a certified public accountant, has pointed to the City of Payette’s latest Recreation Fund balance as an area of concern saying it only had enough funding for a month and a-half. The fund supports the pool, pictured here in September of 2017.

PAYETTE — Payette City Pool is reducing user pass fees for many senior citizens, and also clearing the way for local high school students to gain lifeguard certification free of charge.

A new 50-percent discount for seniors who are enrolled in the Idaho State Tax Commission’s Property Tax Reduction (Circuit Breaker) program was one of several changes the Payette City Council approved last week to the pool fees schedule. Previously the pool offered all seniors a discount of 10 percent.

The 10-percent discount, which remains in place for those seniors not qualifying for the new, steeper discount, is for residents age 62 and older. The Circuit Breaker program is for seniors age 65 and older. To qualify for Circuit Breaker, the state requires the person’s annual income not exceed $30,450.

Mayor Jeff Williams and city councilors struggled a little with the idea that only home-owning seniors can qualify for a 50-percent discount.

“For seniors that don’t own a house, they’re not going to get a Circuit Breaker. … I’m looking for a little advice, if you have any,” Williams said during the council’s March 4 regular meeting.

Councilor Kathy Patrick suggested allowing senior renters to qualify based on their adjusted gross income, which they could prove by showing the first page of their filed federal 1040 tax form.

“I don’t know if staff would like to be looking at people’s tax returns,” Williams said.

Councilor Alan Massey said he basically liked the idea of using AGI, but determining where to set the maximum income level was “real difficult.”

On a suggestion from Williams, the council opted to proceed with the Circuit Breaker qualifier for now, “and come back with something for renters later.”

Another new 50-percent discount on the fees schedule applies both to active members of U.S. military and military veterans. Pool users will qualify for the discount by showing their military ID or DDR-14 military discharge document.

City officials briefly discussed the rationale for eliminating the $40 fee that Payette school students were being charged for their lifeguard certifications. The $40 price was itself a substantial discount from the $200 the pool charges to certify students from schools outside of Payette, and the discount additionally required the student’s employment as a lifeguard to be at the Payette pool.

City Clerk Mary Cordova explained that the latest reduction, to no charge, was in line with a goal of the city’s Comprehensive Plan, namely, to provide work experience for Payette youth.

“And a lot of people get work experience working at the Payette pool,” Cordova said.

The city is removing the requirement, however, that a newly certified lifeguard, who received the fee waiver, take employment at the Payette pool. Taking work at some other pool instead — in Weiser or Parma, for example — will still qualify.

Cordova said the pool couldn’t include employment at Payette as a condition for free certification “because we can’t enter into a contract with a minor.”

And, regardless whether these newly minted young lifeguards go to work in Payette or at some other pool, getting them certified has effectively increased the number of prospective candidates for employment in Payette, Cordova further explained.

ROB RUTH  is a reporter at the Independent-Enterprise and Argus Observer. He can be reached at (208) 642-5258 or by emailing robr@ind-ent.com. To comment on this story, go to www.argusobserver.com.

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