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Havreites gathered at City Hall Monday evening with a focus on finding funding solutions for the Havre Community Pool. "It was a packed meeting," Council member Pam Hillery said. "Frankly I think the attendance shows in what great esteem our pool is held. The room was as crowded as I've seen." Council member Gerry Veis estimated close to 20 citizens spoke at the meeting "Out of that, no one was against the pool," he said, "and the ideas ranged from trying to cut or reduce the heating and chemical costs in some manner to grant writing." Havre Mayor Bob Rice said the meeting was coordinated to provide public information. "I talked to Terry (council member Schend who led the special hearing) after the meeting, I think the public now knows and they are aware of what we are up against." A number of fundraising ideas were presented in support of the pool, while Council members added that more permanent funding would be desirable. "My personal thoughts are we have to do somehting significant," Veis said. "They're talking about having a walking path and building a bigger, better community. We would have to look at something more significant, like a mill levy." "There were a lot of interesting proposals," Council member Andrew Brekke said. "These deficits are on an annual basis, they're not cumulative. That's what I think people need to understand. The revenue will not ever cover the true expenses, it's going to continue, with the rise of chemical, personnel and energy costs any proposal has to be long-term and multi-faceted. What the committee is interested in is looking for a more Long-term funding solution." Council members and the mayor expressed appreciation and gratitude for the numerous ideas the community presented. One of the best, several Council members said, was a suggestion from an 8-year-old boy. "Nick Tanner he had a little blue thing that looked like a wave," Hillery said. "(He) presented kind of a neat idea," Veis said. "Nick Tanner wanted to go around to each of the business and have either a sign promote the Havre pool or a thing at a grocery store where you could pay a dollar at the check stand," Brekke said. "Another idea (presented by Tanner) was to let kids pay a dollar to wear their pajamas at school. He was really cool about it and then he gave us $2 for the benefit of the pool." "Nick Tanner," Rice said chuckling. "He came up and gave (the committee) $2. I sent him a receipt and a thank you card." Other ideas from the community ranged from saving on energy costs to obtaining grants, though committee members said they are not sure they will be able to utilize either of those suggestions. "They mentioned grants and Bear Paw Development Corporation," Hillery said. "Paul Tuss spoke and said grants are very hard to get for operational expenses." "I know an individual suggested cost-savings through heat and energy, but costs go up and it ends up right back where we started," Veis said. "Grant writing was also brought up, and Paul Tuss said he would be there to help if he could." "There were some suggestions on energy cost savings," Brekke said. He added that he personally was interested in obtaining an energy audit to learn how much energy the pool uses, and in researching new forms of energy savings, such as possibly covering the pool, to help reduce energy costs. Council members said a number of community members voiced opinions on the significance of the pool in Havre's livability. "Havre High seniors Jessie Obrecht and Grayson Vukasin stressed the pool is a place where older kids can have good clean fun," Hillery said. "It's a place where they can go and stay out of trouble." Veis said, "Betty Ann Morgan spoke about how when she shows people houses, she shows them the pool and they love it. A couple of individuals say they surely would like to see the Hill County commissioners and the city come up with an agreement that wouldn't have to go to court." Funding of the pool's annual operation is covered partly by a contractual agreement between the county, city and school district where each entity is to pay one-third of the annual operating deficit. It was previously reported that the county has been paying $19,000 annually. The pool's total operating deficit last year was $180,000, with one-third amounting to $60,000. The city Finance Committee met with county commissioners on March 21 to discuss the situation at the pool and the agreement penned in the 1970s and revamped in 1991. Previously, Hill County Commission Chair Kathy Bessette, asked if the pool's deficit had been accumulating for all these years, then why wasn't there a discussion before now. Schend said he thought someone had recently discovered the agreement and brought it to the Finance Committee's attention. In moving forward on the pool financing issue, Council members and the mayor said they thought Monday's meeting was informative and productive. "There were lots of people coming up with concrete ideas," Hillery said. Brekke added, "It was a very good meeting, and they are all ideas we want to look at and consider.” The mayor agreed. "I think it was a good meeting overall and I appreciate the committee holding it," Rice said. The next meeting on the issues dealing with the pool has not yet been set, though the Brekke and Veis both said another meeting would be necessary to discuss the possibilities brought to them by the community. "We're going to have another meeting with information we have, and hopefully work out an agreement with commissioners," Veis said. "I suppose we'll have the discussion at the next Finance Committee meeting," Brekke added. The next Finance Committee meeting will be May 5 at 4:30 p.m. at City Hall.