NOTE: This story is running in this week’s edition of The Nebraska Signal, however we were just notified that the meeting has been cancelled.
The advancement of the proposed Geneva Aquatic Center to a vote by the residents of Geneva was again the focus of the July 20 regularly-scheduled meeting of the Geneva City Council.
A public meeting will take place this Thursday, July 30, at 7:30 p.m., at the Geneva City Auditorium to discuss the proposed new aquatic center. Other town-hall type meetings have been mentioned. During discussion on July 20, a date of October 13 was mentioned for a mail-in ballot vote on approving a new half-cent City Sales Tax to help fund the new aquatic center. The October 13 vote will also call for Geneva residents to approve the project.
A Pool Committee, appointed by Geneva Mayor Rod Norrie, came to the conclusion that sales-tax money is the most preferred route for funding the estimated $4.7 million project. Funding breakouts to make the yearly payment on the 25-year bond could be $160,000 per year from the new one-half cent City Sales Tax; $60,000 per year from existing sales tax Community Betterment funds and a yearly amount from the existing sales tax Economic Development fund. Some city property tax funds will be used to make the yearly bond payment.
With an average bond-coupon rate of between 3.2 and 3.5 percent, the yearly payment on the bond for the project could be $291,000.
“It’s important that we get public input in this before we go much further,” Norrie said.
A recent vote by the Fillmore Central School Board will allow for creating an agency that will cover State Statutes to bring a new one-half City Sales Tax to a vote of the residents of Geneva. The sole purpose of the proposed new half-cent sales tax will be to make a portion of the yearly bond payments for the new aquatic park.
Pool Committee spokesperson Christin Lovegrove told the city council last Monday that the go-ahead by the FC School Board that this is a worthy project for a vote is part of a checks-and-balances system that is called for by State Legislation. She said the school board voted 9-0 to allow the city to hold a special election for the new tax and approval of the new aquatic center. The next step is getting the bond counsel involved and getting the vote set up.
“We kind of need your go-ahead to go on with this,” Lovegrove said.
Norrie noted that the higher estimated cost of construction by JEO Consulting is a possible concern.
“It’s up considerably,” Norrie said. “The citizens of Geneva are going to make the final choice.”
Lovegrove said the pool committee hopes that the cost of the project will come down when actual bids are received for the aquatic center.
“It all comes down to the bid process,” she said.
Lovegrove also fielded several questions from the audience and the city council. Questions included:
• Two slides… One of the slides is proposed to be a family slide allowing a parent to go down the slide with a child.
• Downsizing the pool and enclosing it… It would cost twice as much to build and 10 times as much to maintain.
• Rock Wall, other special features… Something to set the Geneva facility apart. Something to make it a regional draw.
• Having aquatic center open more days… Lifeguards are getting younger, and kids are involved in more sports than ever before. Many more full-time employees would be needed to staff the facility.
• Fund-raising… Lovegrove noted its difficult to raise funds for a project that isn’t a reality yet. “I assure you we are diligently looking at grants, fund-raising, etc.,” Lovegrove said. “We need a vote passage to pursue these more.” “Maybe someone would want to have their name on the pool house, on a slide, things like that,” Councilman Norman Marks said.
• The zero-entry part of the pool is designed to be in a separate area of the pool to keep the larger kids from the smaller kids as they enter the pool.
• “We are planning to heat the pool, which could give you some more options to keeping it open,” said Geneva City Administrator Kyle Svec.
Geneva City Attorney Joe Bixby told the city council he expects items associated with the proposed aquatic center to move into overdrive in the next few weeks.
“This thing is going to start moving very rapidly from here,” he said. “If there’s some doubt…we really need to know it now and address it…”
In other July 20 meeting notes, the city council voted unanimously to approve a new two-year inter-local agreement with Fillmore County to have the Fillmore County Sheriff’s Office provide law-enforcement services for the City of Geneva. The new contract allows for a 3 percent increase for each of the next two years. The new two-year contract amount will be $309,603.48 and run from October 1, 2015, through September 30, 2017.
Fillmore County Sheriff Bill Burgess attended the July 20 meeting and told the city council the Fillmore County Board of Supervisors voted recently to present the city with the proposed new contract including the yearly 3 percent increases. He also told the city council that his and Fillmore County lead deputy Steve Roemmich’s time in Geneva is not noted on schedules.
“We field at least 100 hours of service in Geneva per week,” Burgess said.
“If we have any issues, we get a hold of Bill (Burgess) and he follows through,” Norrie said. “I feel we have a good working relationship.”
During his City Administrator’s Report, Svec noted he has received eight applications for the vacant city maintenance position. He also said work was recently completed on the pitcher’s mound and batter’s box at the Legion Field. He also commented that the 2014 City Audit was recently completed and that copies have been made available to city council members.