Posted 4 months ago
By John Axtell
The Chadron City Council has unanimously passed a resolution sending city voters in November a half-cent sales tax to fund conversion of the city’s outdoor swimming pool into an indoor recreation facility.
The council had fallen one vote short of a required super majority on a similar resolution last month, triggering a successful petition drive that mean the sale tax would be on the ballot regardless of what the council did last night, but the two “no” votes on the original measure said last night that this was a different situation.
Both Levi Grant and Dr John Gamby said the work of pool supporters on the petition drive created an entirely different situation this time and that they had no problem voting for the new resolution…although neither gave any indication they would vote for the sales tax in November.
Grant questioned the exact wording of the resolution and ballot language, says several members of the public had told him in the past few days that they thought the project was for a new new and not a renovation of the existing pool.
Businessman Jim Puckner expressed concerns over the language as well, saying it did not include a specific dollar cutoff for the sales tax…intended to raise $4-million dollars toward a $5.9-million project and asking what would happen if the other $2-million in grants and donations didn’t materialize.
City Attorney Adam Edmund said the language cited by both Puckner and Grant came from the statute passed 2 years ago allowing the new half-cent sales tax, adding that it had different requirements than those of the half-cent LB-840 tax approved by Chadron voters to help build the new hospital and again last year for city infrastructure.
The role in the election campaign of SPEEDO, the council-appointed committee that worked with consultant Burbach Associates in coming up with the pool proposal, was raised by several people who said they’d been told by one or more SPEEDO members that the group had disbanded.
SPEEDO chairman Dr Terry Owen says the group didn’t disband, but simply went on hiatus after completing its task. Owen says it won’t campaign for the sales tax, but will instead serve as source of facts about the proposal.
Owen says there’ll be a variety of ways and opportunities for members of the public to learn more about the pool proposal.
Owen also says that SPEEDO will continue working with foundations and other possible sources of grants and gifts, but while initial contacts have been very encouraging…it’s unlikely final or even tentative approval will be given to any of them unless and until Chadron voters approve the sales tax in November.
The $5.9-million dollar recreation center proposal includes enclosing the current pool, adding a community room and therapy pool, renovating the infrastructure of the existing pool, and giving the pool both a slide and a zero-level entry.