Perry-Lecompton school district voters will soon decide whether to create recreation commission

In a special election next week, residents of the Perry-Lecompton school district will decide whether to establish a recreation commission.

The ballot question in Tuesday’s election would create a commission that partners with the school district to fund recreational sports and activities for the community. J.B. Elliott, the Perry-Lecompton school district’s superintendent, said the commission would start operating in 2020 if voters authorize it, and that it would be able to use property taxes to fund its activities.

“The goal is to enhance the quality of life in the district,” Elliott said. “Families looking to move into the district or its cities of Perry, Lecompton, Williamstown or Grantville want recreational opportunities.”

Should the measure pass, the Perry-Lecompton school board would appoint four board members to the recreation commission and those board members would appoint a fifth member, Elliott said. That board would then determine what programming and services the commission would offer.

The commission’s leaders would also approve an annual budget with a corresponding mill levy, which would then require approval from the school board, Elliott said. Approval of the recreation district’s budget, like the school district’s, would require a public hearing and would be subject to protest petitions, he said.

For 2020, the commission would only be able to levy up to 1 mill of taxes, Elliott said. However, with the school board’s approval, it could increase its mill levy by up to 1 mill every year, to a maximum of 4 mills.

“Most recreation commissions don’t request their maximum authority,” Elliott said. “The average for the 121 recreation commissions (in Kansas) associated with school districts is 2.5 mills.”

A mill would provide the recreation commission about $71,000 in taxes annually, Elliott said. A mill equals $17.50 in taxes on a $150,000 home.

Elliott said a group of stakeholders in the district, including youth sports coaches and senior center organizers, had been studying the issue of creating a recreation commission for about 18 months.

It’s not yet clear exactly what kinds of services the recreation commission would provide. Paula Hladky, a Perry resident who was on the group that explored creation of the recreation commission, said that although the focus might be on youth sports and activities, the ballot question’s passage would also increase recreational opportunities for seniors in the district.

“We are hoping we have more transportation options for seniors,” she said. “When 60 of us want to go on a trip, we can use the school district’s buses to go on day trips. If this passes on Tuesday, we can sit down at the table and talk about all the things we can do to make this a win-win for people of all ages in the district.”

One thing the recreation commission wouldn’t be doing is building new facilities, Elliott said. The recreation commission would make use of existing facilities, he said, including those of the school district.

It will be up to the commission board to decide whether to hire personnel. Elliott said the board could hire a director, rely solely on volunteers or use volunteers in combination with part-time employees.

Douglas County Clerk Jamie Shew said two polling sites will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday for the special election. They are Lecompton City Hall, 327 Elmore St., and Kanwaka Township Hall, 776 U.S. Highway 40.


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