Letter from the Editor

Monday, December 20, 2004

Why the bond issue should be slam dunk

Goodness knows it isn't easy to pass a bond issue for anything, especially in the supermajority era. Not flags, grandmothers nor apple pies can push these things through smoothly - even the Storm Lake Middle School, one of the best projects this city has ever undertaken, took repeated go-rounds and much clashing of swords from opposing camps.

If there was ever an opportunity for a bond issue to meet close to unanimous success on any subject, it should be the one that will happen early in 2005 to put Project Awaysis over the top.

When voters go the polls, they will be taking only about $3 million out of the community, which will be leveraged into a $29 million project - that's a deal if ever there were one. And it would be silly to jeopardize $8 million in state Vision Iowa grants to save what will amount to about five bucks a month on average for a family in a $100,000 house. It should certainly never come to that, or seeing other city responsibilities neglected to make up for a lack of citizen participation.

And voters should realize that the $3 million they are approving is strictly for the outdoor pool portion of Project Awaysis. This is our municipal responsibility, and with or without Awaysis, we would need to replace our outmoded old pool with tax dollars. In fact, it's about a decade overdue. We owe a decent, modern pool to our community's children, and Awaysis gives us a chance to make an extraordinary facility with the property tax impact of a basic pool.

It's never easy or popular to propose a tax increase, and however you choose to promote it, it is that. But Storm Lake has a relatively very low debt load. And in this case, a relatively small investment of taxes will help to bring a project with sweeping quality of life implications, and frankly, the best hopes for the future of our community ride on Awaysis.

People will vote for their own reasons. Some will vote to do something for the kids. Some for the economic sense of the funding arrangements. Some for the jobs, tourism and business it represents. And some just because it feels right.

Nobody likes taxes. But within Project Awaysis, the T-word is not necessarily such a bad word. If we are taking gift money from the state, presumably some from large corporations and wealthy donors, some from future users visitors using a hotel, and so on - citizens should not hesitate to give a little something too.

Perhaps, if such a project were handed to use easily, at no cost to citizens, we would never appreciate it as fully.

As it is, if this bond issue vote is successful, Storm Lakers will be vested and engaged in Awaysis, and especially in its aquatic center, a critical part of it all with a say in its direction.

Isn't that better than standing around with your hand out waiting for opportunity to serve you?

It will all be something to see. Combined with the growth of the medical center, the Wal-Mart retail area, the university and its Science Center and upcoming Student Center, the renovation of the historic depot and on and on, we are in the midst of what promises to be the most revolutionary decade in the community's history.

When the vote comes around, residents will have the opportunity to speak to it; to climb on this development and hold on for dear life, if they are so inclined.

We can't imagine anyone wanting to pass up this ride.