It could be a break-even year at Splash Station
By Bob Okon firstname.lastname@example.org January 4, 2013 9:18PM
The city of Joliet pays about $173,000 a year to cover debt payment on the Joliet Park District's Splash Station, according to a contract drawn up the water park was built. That may change under a new plan proposed by the city Dec. 19, 2011. | Sun-Time
Updated: February 8, 2013 6:14AM
JOLIET — Splash Station Waterpark has a chance to break even in the first year that it won’t get any subsidy from the city of Joliet.
Joliet Park District Executive Director Dominic Egizio said Friday that he won’t have final financial numbers for Splash Station until May, but, “Right now, my projection is we’re probably going to break even.”
Attendance for the summer of 2012 was the second best ever, thanks to lots of hot, dry weather.
The park drew 72,721 people last year. The best year was 2005 — another hot summer — when attendance 81,637.
Attendance in 2011 was 68,093. Egizio was also hoping for a break-even year in 2011, but Splash Station ended the year in the red.
Even though Splash Station closes at the end of summer, its budget runs through April to coincide with the park district’s fiscal year. Revenue from season pass sales during the off-season, as well as any maintenance costs, continue to impact the Splash Station budget after the swimming season ends.
Egizio said the end of a joint-ownership agreement with the city did not have any impact on the operations at Splash Station. The water park always has been run by the park district.
The city of Joliet severed its connection with the water park in April. Before then, the city paid about $173,000 a year on construction debt for Splash Station under the joint-ownership agreement made with the park district when the facility was built in 2002. When Splash Station did not generate enough money to cover the annual debt payment, the city made up the difference. And, Splash Station has never showed a surplus, so the city has always paid.
Joliet did not support operation costs for Splash Station, so any deficits in running the water park were always covered by the park district.
But the annual debt payment for Splash Station had become a yearly controversy once the city’s financial condition worsened in the recession, and Joliet had to cut costs to balance its budgets.
So, the city in April agreed to pay $950,000 to the park district to get out of the agreement. The park district took on the remaining $1.3 million of debt on Splash Station.