Cottage Grove voters to decide: Property tax hike for new pool, park amenities?It isn’t just city government that Cottage Grove voters have a chance to help shape when they head to the polls next week — they’ll weigh in on the future of the city’s park system, too.
It isn’t just city government that Cottage Grove voters have a chance to help shape when they head to the polls next week — they’ll weigh in on the future of the city’s park system, too.
A pair of ballot questions in Cottage Grove will ask city residents for the go-ahead to borrow up to $13.5 million to complete a trio of recreational facility upgrades that, if approved, would add a family aquatic center, new baseball and softball fields and a youth play center to the city’s arsenal of park amenities.
Unlike the recently completed new Cottage Grove City Hall project, the park projects would require an increase in property taxes to cover borrowing and operational costs, city officials say.
That, the city has said, is why the pair of questions was placed on the ballot; voters can decide to pass both questions, one or neither.
Approval of both questions would mean an estimated increase in city property taxes of $54 per year on a home valued at $175,000, and $74 per year on a home valued at $230,000, according to the city.
The $13.5 million in borrowing would cover only construction costs; annual operating costs would be borne by user fees and city tax dollars, the city says.
Here is a closer look at the questions Cottage Grove voters will see next Tuesday and the expected impact on city property taxes:
Question No. 1
One year after the city closed its 50-year-old municipal pool — citing rising maintenance and operation costs and flagging attendance figures — the first question would authorize the city to issue up to $6.5 million in bonds for land acquisition and construction of an outdoor family aquatic center.
The new water park would be larger, more interactive and more efficient to operate than the old pool, the city has said. A location has not yet been selected.
A modern recreational aquatic facility has been repeatedly identified as a top priority by city commissions and a task force that met for more than a year to discuss a possible community center. Portions of that group’s recommendations are included in this year’s referendum.
The outdoor, family-oriented water park would likely include a sloping zero entry pool access; shallow zone with interactive spray features and slides aimed at young children; a deep zone with swim lanes, slides and other interactive features; a large deck area with shaded areas and seating; picnicking areas; and an operations building that would include locker rooms, a concession stand and a rentable public-use room.
For a Cottage Grove home valued at $175,000, approval of the aquatic center question would increase city property taxes by an average of $26 per year, according to city estimates; the impact on a home valued at $230,000 would be $36 per year. The city has said user fees would cover all but an estimated $75,000 in operational costs per year.
Question No. 2
A second question will ask voters to approve $7 million in bonding to complete a wide range of upgrades at Hamlet Park — including the construction of four new baseball/softball diamonds — and the retrofitting of a 5,500 square-foot building at the city’s disused pool into an indoor/outdoor youth play center.
The proposed improvements at the city’s largest park include the four new, lighted baseball/softball diamonds — doubling the number of ball fields at the busy park — and a new concessions building; an interactive, zero-depth aquatic feature called a splash pad, similar to one opened last summer at Highlands Park; new trails and sidewalks; multiple shade structures; and improvements to existing ball fields, playground equipment and landscaping.
The indoor/outdoor play center would renovate the empty pool building vacated by the city last year into a year-round structure that would include indoor and outdoor playgrounds, rentable rooms and party facilities; a lounge/lobby area with wireless internet and a stage area for small shows and entertainment. The facility would be staffed by city employees.
Approval of question two would mean an estimated increase in city property taxes of $28 per year on a $175,000 home, the city estimates; that increase would be $38 per year on a $230,000 home.
The city has said the play center would be self-supporting.