Base pool services no longer free, small fee charged

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla -- The 16th Services Squadron reinstated a series of fees and charges at the Aquatics Center Sunday. Fees will apply for open swim times; however, designated military lap swimming will remain free.

Free swimming and pool use began about 10 years ago when money from appropriated funds designated from Congress and non-appropriated funds generated from Services facilities were plenty. Today, combat and global operations and Air Force leadership's push for a more efficient and streamlined military have brought some limits and funding constraints to on-base programs.
Although the new fees may trouble some people, the base pool will get better, according to Jerry Romano, 16th SVSs Community Sup-port Flight chief.

"Funds generated daily will increase staff and programs," he said.

It costs the 16th SVS more than $5,000 a month to operate the Aquatic Center. Last fiscal year, pool operating expenses reached $66,300 between maintenance, staff, lifeguards and training. Fun-ding constraints will no longer allow Services to offer free swimming to the community.

"Since free swimming was established, the pool operated at a huge financial loss, but that loss was partially offset by summer time appropriate fund civilian over hire lifeguards," said Mr. Romano.

"With continued budgetary constraints, we no longer have the luxury of those overhires, thus driving the nominal usage fee."
"Hurlburt is one of the only bases I know of that has offered free swimming. We have been very fortunate with our funding position in the past, but we can no longer offer free swimming," said Lt. Col. Lisa Hansen, 16th SVS commander. "We have to pass along the cost of managing the pool to those who want to swim."

Fees will apply during scheduled open swim times. Entrance fee for swim team members is free as well as designated military lap swimming.

There will be several payment options available at the Aquatics Center. For more information, call 884-6866.