Archive for Thursday, July 13, 2006

New voters could decide bond’s fate

July 13, 2006

In order to revamp the city's pool and build a recreation center, supporters of an upcoming referendum have poured their energies into increasing the size of a different kind of pool.

Starting months ago with a table that drew 23 new voters at a PTO carnival, Eudora City Administrator Cheryl Beatty has overseen an effort to broaden the city's voting ranks.

"I know, historically, (citizens) have had low turnout to their elections," Beatty said. "So we would just encourage people to get out and vote. This is their chance to build the community and have a say in it."

With one major push left at this weekend's CPA Picnic, Beatty said the effort has been working.

"By best estimate, we've registered 120 or 125 voters," Beatty said.

Voter turnout plagued two previous attempts to pass a pool bond in 2004. On the second referendum, only 670 voters cast votes on what would have been a $2.25 million project. The turnout represented only 28 percent of Eudora's overall voting pool of about 2,000 homes.

The growth of Eudora has Beatty hopeful for even more people to register.

"There are so many people that are new to the community that either weren't sure where to get registered to vote, or it wouldn't have been convenient to make it to get registered," Beatty said. "When we're at the voter registration, we can also hand out absentee ballot forms if they're going to need one."

The final day for registration will be Tuesday, two full weeks before the actual Aug. 1 bond referendum where voters will have the ability to pass the $3.8 million bond issue and consequently endorse the construction of a new pool and recreation complex.

Although the pool would be at the same location and roughly the same size as the city's current swimming hole, it would include amenities like a zero-depth entry point and a $150,000 water slide.

The recreation center would be a first for the city and would include meeting areas, a home for the parks and recreation department and a regulation-size basketball court.

"We've been discussing it with a lot of people and people are recognizing there are definite needs for this kind of project," Beatty said. "The only comment back was the concern of raising taxes, but Eudora still has about the lowest in the area for mill levy issued."

The bond would be retired through a half-cent sales tax and a probable one- to three- mill increase in Eudora's taxing authority, Beatty said.

The amount of mills levied would be directly tied to the amount of money brought in through sales tax.

The more sales tax the city raises would drop the amount of mills levied, Beatty said.

The tax burden would be further minimized as Eudora USD 491 plans to drop part of its own taxing authority, Beatty said.

Although the city officials cannot endorse the project or attempt to sway voters, conceptual drawings of the project provided by BG Consultants have flanked all registration booths and volunteers have handed out informational brochures.

"Those who have signed up have expressed interest in voting for the project," Beatty said.

In addition to setting up at the PTA festival, community members signed voters up at the Eudora City Hall and C&S Market. The information booth has also been a steady fixture at events like a recent block party to support the Relay For Life.

After the registration deadline passes, the citizen committee who helped form and develop the concept for the pool will continue presenting information to the public.

"There will be an information drop. The committee has also talked about doing phone call reminders the week before the election to remind people to get out and vote," Beatty said.

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