Administrator tackles pool questions
Baldwin -- When Baldwin voters pick up a ballot on April 1, they may be surprised to find it contains no mention of a swimming pool.
So how could the ballot issue decide the municipal pool's fate? That's one of the questions voters may have as the election approaches.
To help voters understand the issue, the J-W posed some basic questions to Brian Wilcox, Baldwin city administrator.
Keep in mind that the issue before voters is Charter Ordinance 11, which would allow a city-created public building commission to finance the swimming pool construction project.
J-W: What is a public building commission?
- Wilcox: A public building commission (PBC) ... is a legal entity, technically a municipal corporation. In this case, the PBC would be created by the city of Baldwin and would acquire a leasehold interest in the city-owned real estate upon which the proposed swimming pool is to be constructed, as well as temporary ownership of the swimming pool, and would also issue the debt, "PBC revenue bonds," for the pool.
(Note: The PBC would be involved in the pool until the PBC revenue bonds are retired, which should happen 20 years or less. After the bonds are retired, the city would take over ownership.)
J-W: Why are residents voting on Charter Ordinance No. 11?
- Wilcox: The only way a city-created PBC can be utilized for this project involves use of a charter ordinance, a type of ordinance that state laws as they apply to the local community. Charter ordinances are subject to protest or objection by voters. Charter Ordinance No. 10 of the city was protested with a valid petition; therefore, before Charter Ordinance No. 11 (the successor version of No. 10) may take effect, it must first be approved by a majority of voters on April 1.
J-W: What happens if Charter Ordinance No. 11 passes?
- Wilcox: The charter ordinance immediately takes effect, allowing a city-created PBC to finance the swimming pool project, and the city council would then proceed with creating the PBC. After the PBC is created and appointed, it would issue revenue bonds for the project, and the PBC and the city council would select and negotiate an agreement with the engineer for design of the new swimming pool.
(Note: The city estimates that construction of the North Park pool could start as soon as April 1998. The pool could open as soon as Memorial Day 1999.)
J-W: What if Charter Ordinance No. 11 fails?
- Wilcox: In this event, the city would have at least the following options available:
1.) Revamp the new-pool proposal and pursue passage of another PBC charter ordinance.
2.) Decide not to pursue a new pool and instead rehabilitate the existing pool.
(Note: The half-cent sales tax approved by Baldwin voters last November cannot be used to renovate the existing pool.)
3.) Decide to discontinue providing a swimming facility to the public. Operating the existing pool without at least substantial renovation does not appear to be a viable long-term option.
(Note: The sales tax will not be available indefinitely as a funding source for the pool project without voter reauthorization. Also, in addition to being necessary for the North Park project, a PBC could be helpful for renovation work on the existing pool.)
J-W: If residents approve Charter Ordinance No. 11, does that necessarily mean the North Park pool will be built?
- Wilcox: No. It would merely give the city council the opportunity to pursue the next steps.
J-W: What is the exact cost of the project?
- Wilcox: The city council voted on Feb. 17 to approve a revised budget for the project. This revised budget includes the same 1996 pool construction cost estimate of $1.65 million as was publicized by the November 1996 sales tax election, but it caps the amount of the PBC revenue bonds (for pool construction cost plus engineering, demolition of the existing pool, parking, street access, sewer extension and costs of debt issuance) at $2 million instead of $2.465 million.
J-W: Will the pool result in a tax increase for Baldwin residents?
- Wilcox: No. Funding will come from the countywide one-cent sales tax approved by Douglas County voters in November 1994, and from the citywide half-cent sales tax approved by Baldwin voters in November 1996. The citywide tax replaces an existing half-cent sales tax and therefore does not result in an increase in the sales tax rate.