On the bond issue, vote Yes?

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

This week I met with an energetic, strong-willed young woman who was out to convince your columnist to “get on board” and convince people to vote “YES” on a ballot issue. Should McCook commit to raising our current sales tax another one-half percent to pay for swimming pool restoration/upgrade plus a new ballpark? One bonded indebtedness commitment and two different building projects.

You’ve heard and read the arguments for and against ambitious projects. The letter from Troy, the CEO of McCook Community Hospital made good sense to me. Troy discussed recruiting young medical professionals that he is trying to attract to this relocate to this location. One of the things he said that they investigate is activities, like sports fields and our swimming pool or lack thereof for their children's recreation. So such amenities are necessary for a community like ours.

Another letter, from a friend older than your columnist, pointed out the large number of retired folk living in this community. Many are on fixed incomes and the increase in sales tax will be a burden. Being older most retired folk probably would not participate in either ball games or outdoor swimming and might be a bit reluctant to pay for such things.

Still, in my opinion, a dynamic community like our own is and will continue to desire both a better swimming pool and an expanded sports complex so improvements are necessary. I probably won’t use either one but I do have grand and great-grandkids living here and for sure they would use both and I would appreciate watching their activities.

Now my personal gripe is the way both will be financed. I would appreciate being to be able to vote on separate bond issues. The proposed sports complex is a bit grand and if people are reluctant to pay out of pocket I could understand. The swimming pool upgrade however is long past due. The young lady asking me for support explained to me the necessity of combining the two projects into one bond issue and that was to save lawyer fees. Evidently, considerable expense (Darned lawyers!) is involved so combining the two issues to put a single bond issue up for vote makes sense.

I do appreciate the donation of land and money by long-time friend Lloyd Benjamin and his wife Elisabeth for the new sports complex. Lloyd has been innovative in building several very successful businesses in the local area over the years and it is fantastically generous with them to share for the community good. McCook has been blessed with more than a few patriots like that over the years and we should all be so grateful for their generosity. I know that I am. May God bless them all.

Now my long memory also causes me to raise doubts about the way this project is to be financed. It is wonderful and to me proper that it is to be paid for by a bond issue that we taxpayers will be able to vote for or against. I say we but it will only be sales taxpayers in the city limits of McCook who will be able to vote. A large percentage of the people in this trade area will end up paying the increase in sales tax but if they live outside the city limits, they get no vote. To me that is a bit unfair but the backers of the expensive project seem to see it as a good thing.

Then too it wasn’t long ago that our fair city built a grand “Taj Mahal” to hold our city offices, the police and fire departments. That half-cent increase eventually paid off the grand new building but the sales tax didn’t decrease when the bond was paid off. Evidently, city government found other needs for the extra money and we are still stuck with paying on it. My friend had a reasonable response to my ever-increasing tax rate and that for this recreational project the bond issue clearly states that the one-half cent proposed sales tax increase will sunset when the bond is paid off. For me that is a good thing.

Evidently part of the reason for the need for expansion of our present ball field is that our college now has a good baseball program and our present facility is booked nonstop. There is inadequate time for proper maintenance. Then too the facilities there were built, what 50 years ago, and could stand some serious improvement for both the people in the stands as well as the players. Still, I remember some years ago when McCook hosted the American Legion state tournament and several new baseball fields were constructed on what used to be the Elks Golf Course. Those have all fallen into disrepair and disappeared. Still, the College now owns all that ground and it appears that nothing is being done with it. They could build their own facilities on the ground they own and relieve the pressure on our fields at the fairgrounds.

Speaking of practice fields, the complaint is that we don’t have enough. Well in the past a local farmer made available space for, I think four, practice fields just south of town on the flat river bottom. Now abandoned. Why weren’t they kept up?

It is kind of sad timing for increasing taxes at this time of inflation in our nation. Yes, we’ll see an increase in our social security in December but that won’t keep up with the devaluation of the dollar that we have already seen under the present administration. Then of course a majority of the persons that will be paying this increased tax for the bond issue don’t receive social security and it looks like wages aren’t keeping up. Hard times are ahead for all too many. The organizers of this bond issue couldn’t have predicted what our country is going through but hopefully, the bond issue will pass and McCook can continue to be the dynamic community that we all want to see happen. Surely none of them voted for Biden!

Then again one can take the recent advice of the lady that cuts my hair. She is a big proponent of voting YES on the upcoming bond issue. Her husband coaches baseball and her son plays now. Her advice “If you plan on voting NO it is better that you stay home and don’t vote at all!”

That is how I saw it.

Dick Trail

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  • Ever try renting a car, or booking a hotel in any metropolitan area.. The local taxes for these can be almost as much as the actual thing you are renting.. These Occupancy or Rental car fees, in many cases, are enacted to pay for large projects (see Kansas City's Arena, or Vegas's new football stadium). Thus, "tax the visitor" so the locals do not have to pay is the only way a tax increase gets passed. Taxation without representation (the visitor) is prevalent everywhere.. At least with a Sales Tax, the locals have skin in the game..

    -- Posted by haneyg on Tue, Oct 18, 2022, at 2:32 PM
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