Archive for Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Voters asked to OK tax to finance new pool

3/4-cent sales tax increase set for April 3 general election

January 24, 2007

In early April, Tonganoxie voters will be asked to approve a 3/4-cent sales tax to finance a new swimming pool.

The additional sales tax, which would bring Tonganoxie's rate to 8.05 percent, will be in effect for 10 years -- or until the $2,785,000 swimming pool and street improvements near the pool are paid for.

Here's the cost breakdown for the package voters will consider April 3, according to city officials:

• $20,000 for pool furnishings. This would include picnic tables, umbrellas, park benches, lounge chairs, pool cleaning and maintenance equipment, office furniture, concession stand equipment, cash registers and life-saving and first-aid equipment.

• $122,218 to improve Pleasant Street between Second and Third streets, which runs on the east side of the swimming pool. This would include replacing the existing street with a 28-foot asphalt street, constructing curbs and gutters, an asphalt parking lot on the west side and a five-foot sidewalk along the street.

• $2,785,000 for a new pool, to be constructed at the site of the existing pool. The pool, in part, would feature a bath house and concession area, five lap lanes, toddler play area, two large water slides, two one-meter diving boards, lighting, sound system, shade structures, zero-depth entry, landscaping and a total of 6,200 square feet of water surface. The existing pool has 4,000 square feet of water surface. The $2,785,000 estimate also includes cost of demolition of the existing pool and design fees, as well as $25,000 contingency.

These are cost estimates, according to City Administrator Mike Yanez. Final costs will be determined once final designs are made and bids are received.

John Morgan, 1177 Raintree Park, was the only person to speak to the council Monday about the swimming pool proposal. Morgan served on a city committee, headed by City Council member Jim Truesdell, that made recommendations to the council about what amenities the pool should include.

"I think this is something the city needs and deserves," he said.

Council member Velda Roberts raised questions, saying members of the public noted that the city talked with only one pool development company during its discussions about the new pool. And she said some merchants are concerned about the effect of an additional sales tax.

"They're aware of the fact that this puts us in the position of having the highest sales tax in the county," she said. "I don't think they are necessarily against the pool, but I think they are concerned about the cost."

Truesdell said committee members agreed to what the pool should include, based on conversations with local residents.

"We didn't just dream this project up," he said.

And Morgan noted that other communities have spent more on new pools recently: De Soto spent $2.7 million and is working on $100,000 in upgrades; Bonner Springs spent more than $3.5 million; and Eudora spent $3.8 million.

"We're not out of the ballpark with these numbers," he told council members. "This is par for the course."

Council member Ron Cranor noted the council was poised the make a final decision on Monday, after months of discussion.

"This is the last stage of the process," he said. "If this doesn't go on the ballot now, this project will be shelved until the next election comes around. I think all of the legwork is done.

"I think it's to be set for the voters to approve. The voters are going to be the ones to approve this. This is their opportunity for the taxpayers to have their say."

The council's vote was unanimous to place the sales tax question on the April 3 ballot.

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