October 24, 2012 | LXXII, No. 29

Park district seeks chamber support for levy

The park and recreation district formed in 2003 has accomplished much, and with minimal tax support could provide much more to the community in the future, its chairman said last week.

Coulee Area Park and Recreation District Chairman Phil Hansen spoke to chamber of commerce members at their weekly luncheon last Thursday.

The district, formed in 2003 with no funding, now seeks a levy of 15 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. The measure, on ballots mailed to voters last week, would cost the owner of a $150,000 home $22.50 a year.

That amount of funding would provide the district with about $38,000 a year, or more, according to information obtained from the assessors of the four counties involved. The district’s total assessed valuation is approximately $255.5 million, but assessors noted they are currently updating records that could change that figure.

The levy would provide the district with the means to apply for grants that require matching funds.

And its passage would offer proof of community support to those agencies offering such funds.

“If you have no income, it’s hard to find matching funds,” Hansen said.

The fact that an earlier levy attempt two years ago failed has been an issue with granting agencies, Hansen noted. Nevertheless, the district has managed to partner with local towns that have agreed to temporarily help it fund North Dam Park and Event Center maintenance out of taxes collected for tourism support.

That continued support is not a given, but it proved critical in getting a matching grant from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation for improvements and maintenance at North Dam Park.

The district has also formed a partnership with Coulee Medical Center on a feasibility study for a community center that would likely include a swimming pool and much more. The study showed the community could support such a facility.

But the decision before voters now is just about basic maintenance funding, Hansen said.

He asked for chamber members’ support, and his request received an enthusiastic response.

Hansen noted that a flyer inserted in this week’s Star will offer voters a report on the district’s accomplishments and hopes for the future, which include improvements to local parks and more.

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