Parks board makes cuts to tax proposal

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The proposed parks and recreation tax is shrinking.

With some negotiation but little argument from residents attending Monday's Cape Girar-deau's parks and recreation advisory board meeting, projects got trimmed by $4.953 million.

The board is not done.

Mike Keefe, the board's chairman, asked for a special meeting to rework the proposal in time for the city council's September meeting. He wants to justify a no-sunset tax that will pay for all the projects proposed in April. He didn't say whether the tax bid would be for a half penny or quarter penny.

Keefe emphasized that the cuts were essential to get the city council's support for a tax drive.

"We were asking for the sky," he said of the April plan calling for nearly $32 million worth of improvements and a half-cent tax. "We've got to pare it down."

He told residents projects being deleted from this proposal were being delayed, not dumped completely.

Members of the municipal golf advisory board agreed to reduce requests from $2.25 million in improvements to $1.6 million. Parents of swimmers agreed, not happily, that a $5 million permanent enclosure for Central Municipal Pool was less important than replacing the air-exchange system as part of a $675,000 renovation.

"Shoot, yeah. A brand-new air system would be better than what we've got now, which is nothing," said parent Mark Coots, after he failed to convince the board that building an entirely new pool was a better idea. In the end, the municipal pool was cut by $4 million, with a promise for a new pool in 10 years.

Board members retained $4.025 million renovation plans for Osage Community Centre, despite some haggling over an elevated walking track. Keefe suggested the track could be delayed. Dan Muser, parks and recreation director, said the track was removed from original construction plans to save money.

The board also held fast to its proposed $6 million family aquatic center.

"An aquatic center is what the public expects," said Danny Essner, a parks board member and banker. He said the facility could pay for itself.

The parks board resumes making cuts at 5:30 p.m. Aug. 27 at the Osage Community Centre, 1625 N. Kingshighway.

pmcnichol@semissourian.com

(573) 335-6611, extension 127

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