Alva Review-Courier -

Swimming pool bond defeated; now what?

 

August 21, 2019



The $2.5 million GO bond proposal by the City of Alva to fund an aquatic center was defeated as reported in last week’s Newsgram. Those opposing the bond issue have been remarkably quiet except for a kind of social media victory dance right after the election.

I’ve been waiting for them to spring into action to implement their alternate funding plans. They don’t have much time if they hope to make use of the city’s application for a federal water conservation grant. If awarded in the full amount, the grant will require $1.9 million in matching funds and in-kind labor. That’s a pretty hefty sum to come up with in just a few months by way of fundraisers and so far unidentified donors.

Unfortunately, those opposing the bond proposal seem to be a divided group. Some favored a sales tax instead of the ad valorem property tax needed for GO bonds. Others just seemed to be against any kind of tax. There were skeptics who apparently wanted to see exact plans for the new aquatic center including detailed bid specifications which the city said would cost at least $200,000 up front. Others suggested just putting in a splash pad.

Meanwhile, the city council could go ahead and call for a sales tax increase election. It may already be too late to get that in place in time to match any grant funds in the application.

A sales tax increase has its own problems. If the tax is earmarked for the aquatic center, what happens to the tax when the center is finished? It can’t be used for any other purpose unless a new election is held to do away with the tax or designate it for some other purpose. And sales tax increases tend not to go away. There’s also no guarantee a sales tax increase would pass at the polls.

I’m happy I’m not a city council member, but if I were, I’d be very reluctant to continue to work on any kind of plans to finance an aquatic center. Whatever happens, the Alva Swimming Pool will not be opening on Memorial Day weekend next year. It remains to be seen if Alva will have a public swimming pool anytime soon.

This could be good news for folks who sell above ground backyard swimming pools. I’ve known people who’ve installed those. They are fairly expensive and require a lot of attention to keep the water safe for swimming. The other options are the public pools in other towns or paying to use the J.R. Holder Wellness Center indoor pool at NWOSU.

Public Comments at Alva City Council Meeting

A very long time ago, my dad was mayor of the small Missouri town where I grew up. I remember the many calls and complaints he fielded from citizens. There was one particularly persistent lady who wanted better TV reception at her home. TV signals were acquired by tall antennas attached to the house. A neighbor’s trees exceeded the height of this lady’s antenna so her TV reception was spotty. She decided the mayor was the person who should take care of this problem, and she didn’t give up. Her calls interrupted family dinners and quiet evenings at home.

Years later, my father and brother partnered with some others to bring cable TV to the town. It solved that lady’s problem, but my father was no longer the mayor.

Being on the sidelines of my father’s public office term left me not inclined to experience the same thing, but it also makes me appreciate those who do choose to serve in office. They receive a lot of complaints but very little praise.

Monday night a large group of people showed up at the city council meeting. One person called for firing the city business manager. Another said the mayor should apologize for unspecified online comments.

The majority of those who spoke want the city to loosen up the ordinance on medical marijuana. A dispensary was to open in Alva the first of August but was denied a business permit for not complying with the city ordinance. When Councilman Randy Stelling reported on the council’s ordinance committee’s earlier meeting, he said they discussed updating the ordinance but see the state marijuana laws as “a moving target.” So they decided to wait a little while to see if the state makes more changes.

No Franchise Tax Election

Another Alva election was expected in September on the Oklahoma Natural Gas franchise. There have been a few letters to the editor about the proposed one-percent increase in the franchise tax which is passed through to customers and ultimately goes to the city.

However, an error was discovered. In addition to an ordinance, the Alva City Council was supposed to pass a resolution for the mayor’s proclamation of a special election. The resolution was not included on the agenda, and therefore the election could not be held in September.

Monday night, the council rescinded that ordinance, but when they considered a replacement ordinance a couple of council members spoke against the 25 year term and the proposed one percent increase in the franchise tax that is passed through directly to ONG customers. The council voted against both the ordinance and the election resolution with the expectation that ONG will be pushed into considering a different option.

There will be more about the council meeting in the Friday and Sunday Alva Review-Courier. You’ll also be able to view the video of the council meeting at AlvaReviewCourier.com.

 

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