Crook aquatic center measures sink

By Rachael Scarborough King / The Bulletin
Published: May 16. 2007 5:00AM PST

PRINEVILLE – Two ballot measures to build and operate a new aquatic center in downtown Prineville appeared to have failed by a large margin, according to unofficial election returns Tuesday night.

The first measure to construct a new $10.7 million, three-pool swim center was failing by a margin of 60 percent to about 40 percent as of 10:30 p.m. Tuesday. The second measure, a levy to fund the pool’s operations, also appeared to fail the same margin.

But the district did appear to have met the 50-percent voter turnout requirement under the double majority rule.

This was the third time the question of building a new swim center in Prineville to replace the city’s aging pool appeared before voters. Similar measures failed in 2002 and in November. For this May’s ballot, officials dropped the price tag on the facility by $1.3 million by eliminating a multipurpose gymnasium that was part of the plans that were rejected in November.

Donna White, the chairwoman of Volunteers in Action, the political action committee supporting the measures, could not be reached for comment Tuesday night. White was also elected to a position on the Crook County Parks and Recreation District board on Tuesday.

The construction bond for the pool would have taxed residents in the Crook County Parks and Recreation District at a rate of 62 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, while the operations levy was set at 37 cents for every $1,000 of assessed value. That meant a homeowner with a house assessed at $200,000 would have paid $198 total a year for both measures.

Unlike the previous two times that voters saw the measures, for this ballot Parks and Recreation District officials decided not to tie the two measures together, so that if the construction bond passed and the operations levy failed it would still have been possible to build the pool.

The construction bond for the pool would have taxed residents in the Crook County Parks and Recreation District at a rate of 62 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, while the operations levy was set at 37 cents for every $1,000 of assessed value. That meant a homeowner with a house assessed at $200,000 would have paid $198 total per year for both measures.

Unlike the previous two times that voters saw the measures, Parks and Recreation District officials decided not to tie the two measures together this election, so that if the construction bond passed and the operations levy failed, it would still have been possible to build the pool.

The plans included two indoor pools and one outdoor pool. The center would have been located in Davidson Park on Court Street in downtown Prineville.

In this election, the measures faced the additional hurdle of the double-majority rule, which require that property tax initiatives garner both 50 percent approval and 50 percent voter turnout. In a May election, the requirement is more difficult to meet because off-year spring elections typically generate lower voting rates.

In this case, the Crook County Parks and Recreation District did achieve a voter turnout of just more than 51 percent, out of a total of 7,884 voters, although the county overall only saw 44 percent voter turnout.

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