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home : news : news Thursday, September 21, 2017

8/9/2017 Email this articlePrint this article 
Library's tax bond total could be higher
Referendum might also ask voters to finance a new fitness center

By Tom Pantera
Editor

While it's still at the very early point of discussion - sort of the kicking-an-idea-around stage - a vote on financing for an expanded DeWitt library might also be a vote on a new fitness center.

In a meeting last week with the library board, which featured the first real discussion of how the library project would be financed, City Administrator Steve Lindner said any referendum probably would seek $3.5 million toward the estimated $5.7 million library project. The rest would be paid for by private donations and grants.

The amount going to the library would mean a tax hike of 60 cents per $1,000 of valuation for five years or so, but the levy would drop to current levels as bonds on other projects were paid off.

But Lindner also raised the possibility that the referendum actually would ask voters to approve a bond issue of up to $6 million, with the rest going to another city project.

In a later interview, Lindner said the city is in very preliminary talks with the school district about partnering on a new fitness center and athletic facility.

A fitness center project is, at this point, little more than an idea, he stressed, as is the possibility of putting two projects on one bond issue.

"Potentially, if we did a joint project with the school, we might have a larger project at that time," he said. "It's just a matter of [whether] that project gets legs."

At research stage

Any fitness center project hasn't even reached the conceptual stage, Lindner said. "We're just doing some research on how it could look and operate."

The current fitness center is an older building that wasn't built for the heavy use it now gets, he said.

"It is very, very crowded in our busy seasons," he said, "and crowded otherwise."

DeWitt Schools Superintendent Dan Peterson said for the district, a new fitness center "would open up a lot of opportunities physical-education wise."

If it included swimming, racquetball courts and even a new indoor running track, it would provide the ability to do activities requiring larger spaces, he said.

It also would enable such activities to carry on even in cases of bad weather, he said.

The district, as well as the city, would also be able to take advantage of economies of scale. Currently, the city's fitness center and the school have some of the same equipment, Peterson said, and a joint project would eliminate that duplication.

And cementing the school district's relationship with the community also is a good thing, he said.

"Doing things together, the community benefits," he said, "and we can do it for less."

However large the bond issue will be when it's presented to voters, that won't happen until next year, officials said.




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