Is a parks district with its own tax rate the next step?

Recently, a city councilor remarked when he voted for placing the F&B tax revenue reassignment from street repair and maintenance to parks about easing a path for the pool. All five of the APRC commissioners have ranked a $10 million pool as its top priority goal.  APRC is speaking about combining $2 million currently in their CIP fund and financing $8 million in revenue bonds. At 6.5%, it could be an additional $4 million for interest payments at $800,000 a year for 15 years.

In 2018, parks attempted to “piggyback” $3 million onto the ASD construction bond.  In early 2020, the council approved parks proposal for a $2.6 revenue bond for the pool.  However, Covid delayed this expenditures because it relied on the 25% F&B tax revenue for debt service repayment. In Dec. 2020, a pool design was presented and the cost had ballooned to $4.5-$5.5 million. 

Now, based on inflation  commissioners’ guesstimate the pool cost will be $10 million.  They have presented no information regarding expenses to operate, heat and filtrate a pool that will contain three times as much water as the present Daniel Meyer Pool because it will be much bigger and eight feet deep in some areas.  This proposal is also lacking maintenance and/or staffing costs.  A new aquatics director and many more life guards will be need to be hired. 

 

Another councilor and a former mayor have stated that eventually a parks and recreation district will be proposed.  A district has it’s own tax rate percentage placed on your property taxes.  You will be paying an assessment for the city and parks.

 

APRC’s argument is if there is a financial downturn, their department can pivot more easily than others in the city. They can eliminate positions quicker. However, they will have boxed themselves into a large debt service for the pool with less employees. It doesn’t make sense to me.

I voted for all of the previous F&B tax ballot measures especially the last one that increased parks percentage from 20% to 25%.  Additionally, when the waste water treatment debt service was paid off revenues would be available to pay for street repair, rehabilitation and reconstruction. “The street repair program would apply to the City’s arterial and collector streets.”   

I will be voting no on 15-214 to preserve the F&B tax revenue for the flexibility to spend on streets and/other necessary city projects.

Patricia Turner