The Astoria City Council celebrated the signing of the last check that pays off the Astoria Aquatic Center two years early. Monday night Mayor Willis Van Dusen announced that he held the check for the last payment in his hand and called for the traditional destruction of the mortgage papers which symbolically represents the city facility as free and clear of the $2.93 million dollar debt.
The Mayor stated that the debt was paid early because of fine work by Finance Director Mark Carlson and the entire team involved with the refinance that was accomplished which saved taxpayer money.
The one cost to taxpayers that doesn't go away is the annual supplement to keep the center open which runs into the $100,000 range. City Manager Paul Benoit has been quick to point out that under the leadership of controversial Park Director J.P. Moss the annual operating costs dropped from a projected $400,000 range, which would have closed the center at that time down to a figure that is below $100,000 over the last year.
Benoit also announced that he has posted the Parks and Rec Director position on several job seeker websites including some that are not typical when searching for public employees, implying he may be looking for someone with entrepreneurial skills to replace Mr. Moss. Moss is being replaced after he turned down an offer to move from his current interim position to a more typical Department Head position.