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More-modest Rec Center modernization emerges in city budget planning

No public vote needed on $7.3M plan; construction could start in 2022

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carroll rec renovation2 20-06-28s (copy)

A scaled-back renovation proposal for the Carroll Recreation Center retains the plans for this raised walkway.

Carroll City Council members appear on the verge of approving a partial modernization of the Rec Center, a $7.3 million project that would include construction of a second gymnasium, a raised walking/jogging track and improved locker rooms.

The topic has emerged in hours of ongoing budget discussions at City Hall this week.

Because of the proposed funding mechanisms, the Rec Center project can move ahead with a simple majority City Council vote. There would be no public vote with the modernization. Construction could start as soon as the spring of 2022 with engineering and design work taking place this calendar year.

As it stands, the City Council plans to use $5.74 million in local option sales tax revenues to fund the lion’s share of the project.

City of Carroll voters rendered a split decision in September as they passed a continuation of the 18-year-old 1 percent local option sales tax but rejected the city’s plan to use up to $5 million in general-obligation bond debt financing toward a $13.38 million modernization of the Recreation Center, a more-ambitious plan that involved major additions and changes to the indoor pool.

Big picture, as a result of that September vote, the local option sales tax no longer has a sunset, and revenues from it can be collected indefinitely and largely used at the City Council’s discretion.

The city estimates it will pull in between $1.7 million and $1.9 million annually from the local option sales tax in coming years.

The plan advancing at City Hall for the Rec Center also would include $700,000 in general debt financing, a level that doesn’t trigger a public vote, and $1 million in cash on hand in the budget.

The bonding plan for the partial Rec Center project likely would be mixed with major street reconstruction projects, which would go well beyond the regularly scheduled streets work, in 2022, 2025, 2028 and 2031 and could involve $18.2 million in debt financing.

Last June, the City Council held a public hearing on the ability to issue up to $7.6 million in bonds tied to the local option sales tax.

There was no public opposition, and the City Council approved the issuance of local-option sales tax bonds on a 5-1 vote, with Councilman Mike Kots voting against it.

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