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Council approves $7.61M in local option spending for Rec Center

Carroll voters will have final say on modernization project in Sept. 8 referendum

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Carroll City Council members Monday signed off on the use of $7.61 million in local-option sales tax revenues to fund the majority of a plan for a modernized and expanded Recreation Center, one with a second gym, elevated indoor walking track and extended and updated pool and other enhancements.

The council voted 5 to 1 for the funding with Councilman Mike Kots voting against the measure. Kots said he supports improvements at the Rec Center, which opened in 1977, but thinks it is wiser for the city to wait on a complete plan.

Meanwhile, City of Carroll voters can cast ballots Sept. 8 on a $5.9 million debt-financing plan involving general obligation bonds, the other key part of funding the Rec Center project.

In total the Rec Center plan is expected to cost $13.38 million and could be complete by October 2022.

Additionally, the Sept. 8 city ballot will include a referendum on whether to extend the 1-cent local-option sales tax without a sunset.

The Rec Center bonding referendum requires a 60 percent super-majority to pass; the LOST must clear 50 percent. The council can determine on its own whether to connect debt to the sales tax funds.

It remains an open question whether the public will want to proceed with any action on the Rec Center during the COVID-19 pandemic and recovery, a time in which local-option sales tax revenues are expected to fall, and taxpayers in general may not have the appetite for discretionary city ventures as they are tightening financial belts at home. Or, with favorable interest and bids and a desire for a return to normalcy and refreshed interest in public and group events, the fall may be the ideal time to hold the vote on an improved Rec Center.

Waiting could increase the pricetag to more than $14 million, city officials project.

City of Carroll voters in August 2012 overwhelmingly approved the extension of the 1 percent local-option sales tax for another 10 years.

The ballot measure passed with 71 percent of the vote — 555-229. It carried all four wards in the city handily.

On May 13, 2003, the local-option sales tax passed by just 48 votes in the City of Carroll — 1,229-1,181. The ballot language required the city to use 25 percent of the local-option sales tax money for property-tax relief, with 75 percent available for other city business. That language again appeared on the ballot in 2012.

The Rec Center project is not expected to increase the debt-service levy portion of resident and business’s property tax bills.

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