April 13, 2010
November is a better time than June to think about paying for a swimming pool, according to Royce Van Tassell.
Van Tassell, vice president of the Utah Taxpayers Association, objects to Eagle Mountain’s plans to ask residents to vote on a $7 million bond for a swimming pool/recreation center in June. The reason: too few people vote in June.
“The taxpayers association has long maintained that bond elections belong in November rather than in June so the largest number of voters possible can have a say in whether the city can assume that debt,” Van Tassell said Monday.
But Mayor Heather Jackson said a June election means better-informed voters and an earlier start to the project — if residents approve.
“A June election will bring out the people who are interested [in the pool bond], whether they be positive or negative,” Jackson said. November voters may be less interested and distracted by the other issues on the ballot.
The City Council voted 3-2 in March to seek voter approval on a $7 million complex featuring a lap pool, leisure pool, slides and a lazy river. The council rejected a $11 million plan for a full recreation center.
If voters approve the bond, the owner of a $210,000 home would pay $8.59 more each month in property taxes.
While the taxpayers association typically objects to spending public money on recreation centers and pools, Van Tassell said the association has not weighed in yet on the merits of the center and bond. Instead, he said the concern is when the vote is scheduled.
He said the typical June election garners 8 to 10 percent voter turnout, while a November election is about double that. However, Van Tassell couldn’t say if bonds proposed in June are more likely to pass than in November, as he said that was outside the scope of his research.
Jackson said the Taxpayers Association was not present at council meetings where the center and the bond election were discussed, even though Van Tassell is a city resident.
Jackson said time is an important factor as well. By having the bond vote in June, city residents could be swimming in the new pool next summer. Waiting until November would mean the pool wouldn’t open until 2012. Also, with the uncertain economy, the construction and bond costs may be higher if the city waits five months to proceed with a bond vote.
Van Tassell dismisses that argument. He said the city could have put the bond on the November 2008 ballot and been six months ahead of schedule.
Jackson said the city considered the issue last year, but wanted more information before putting it before the voters.