Archive for Wednesday, October 11, 2006

City backs off vote on tax hike for pool

Council: timetable too tight

October 11, 2006

A new swimming pool is off the city's December wish list.

Monday night, Tonganoxie City Council members debated whether to schedule a Dec. 5 special election on a 3/4-cent sales tax hike to finance a new swimming pool.

And on a 3-2 vote, the measure was turned down.

But council members will move ahead with plans for a new pool, targeting a public vote during the regular city council and school board elections April 3.

Several council members said the city was moving too fast to complete the swimming pool proposal.

Council members Jim Truesdell and Steve Gumm voted to conduct a December election, while council members Ron Cranor, Velda Roberts and Jason Ward voted against the measure.

A special task force, led by Truesdell, has been meeting with a swimming pool consultant for three weeks. That committee determined a $2.78 million pool should replace Tonganoxie's 80-year-old pool.

But at Monday's council meeting, member Velda Roberts said she felt the city was moving too quickly.

"Are we jamming this through, trying to get a project in that will mean that during at least half of our season that we will not have a swimming pool," she said.

The committee had hoped that if voters approved the sales tax in early December that a pool could be open by July 1.

The timetable was tight.

And now, city officials say they want to focus on an election on April 3, open the existing pool -- if possible -- for the summer and then begin work on a new pool, if voters approve the sales tax measure. The existing pool requires numerous repairs, although a firm cost estimate for those repairs hasn't been focused on. And it's possible the pool won't be in any condition to open for the summer, council members said.

In addition to a pool, the city council said it might be prudent to consider a skate park as part of the package. And city officials said they wanted to talk with the Tonganoxie Recreation Commission to see what financial participation that group might have in a skate park.

Mayor Dave Taylor suggested building a skate park on the same grounds as a new pool.

Moving forward with a skate park would be good news to 13-year-old Weston Jones, 15061 222nd St., who attended Monday night's meeting to check up on the status of a skate park.

He is among a group of local youth lobbying city officials for a skate park.

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