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Podcast: The Backstory Episode 7 - Pros & Cons of Sales Tax Increase for Proposed Pool & Ice Facility

Tim Waters hosts a discussion on the upcoming ballot issue on a new $45 million dollar bond that requires a sales tax increase to pay for an Olympic swimming pool and an NHL sized sheet of ice.
The backstory (1)

This content was originally published by the Longmont Observer and is licensed under a Creative Commons license.

Tim Waters hosts a discussion on the upcoming ballot issue on a new $45 million dollar bond that requires a sales tax increase to pay for an Olympic swimming pool and an NHL sized sheet of ice.

On the pro side is Mayor Brian Bagley.

On the con side is ex-Longmont City Manager Gordon Pedrow.

Providing data about the proposed facility for the City of Longmont is Recreation Services Manager Jeff Friesner.

The Longmont Observer is using speech to text conversation software to create transcripts of podcasts like this. The text is largely AI-generated and, although not perfect, can be used to read along with the conversation and/or to search for specific points or topics.

The fully searchable transcript of the conversation can be accessed online by clicking here.

The full AI created text of the conversation is below- Please note- this is 100% computer generated and is does not have 100% accuracy. As the software improves, the transcripts will improve, over time.


Tim Waters 0:16
Welcome to the Longmont Observer's backstory podcast. For every high profile story you hear or read about Longmont, there's always a backstory. The backstory is frequently more interesting than the public story. And this is your opportunity to hear the story behind the story on ballot question 3B a proposed Aquatic Center featuring swimming ice workout in meeting facilities. Longmont, like other communities across the country, aspires to distinguish itself as a place that values its people, the environment and its quality of life. Sometimes, acting on these values can leave residents who might otherwise agree on a host of topics or solutions to problems conflicted as supporting

initiatives viewed as solutions to problems by some residents are viewed as new problems to others, such as true, such as the nature industry about ballot question three be or the proposed Aquatic Center. My name is Tim waters, and I've been invited by the observer to moderate conversations with Longmont, leaders, activists and policymakers to share back stories and topics or issues of importance to the community. The topic of today's backstory focuses on the Aquatic Center on which residents will vote in this fall's election. This is your opportunity to learn more about the history of this proposal, what's being proposed and what to expect it is approved by voters what to expect if it is not approved by voters and why some of your neighbors think it should be approved while others think it should be defeated. Our panelists for today's conversation are Jeff reasoner, long months manager of recreation services, Brian Bagley, long months mayor and Gordon Piedro long month city manager from 1993 to 2012. Welcome, gentlemen, for the remainder of this conversation, you're going to be Jeff, Brian, and Gordon GF is participating in this conversation in his role as manager of recreation services. As such, he'll be asked to provide contextual and operational information. Indeed, in a moment, I'll ask Jeff to get us started by providing a bit of history and context along with operational information is valid question 3d passes or fails. I've asked Jeff to stay with us through the end of the podcast in the event questions about operations arise that Jeff is best suited to answer. But I won't do is ask Jeff to express his position or any position on ballot. Question three be Brian and Gordon, on the other hand, are participating in the podcast specifically for the reasons of expressing their opinions. And I can assure listeners, they have some. I should note that Brian was invited to participate in this backstory podcast, not because he is the mayor, but because he is a resident with strong views on this question. Gordon was invited to join the podcast, not because he was the city manager for 19 years. But because he also has strong views on this question. The London observer believes all moment residents, voters and those who are not yet old enough to vote deserve to hear the arguments on both sides of this question. They're not two better advocates on either side of this question, then Brian and Gordon. So starting with Jeff, share the backstory on the aquatic center proposal. Where did it start? When did it start? And why was it started?

Jeff Friesner 3:36
So for many years, the parks and recreation recreation advisory board had been approached by citizens to consider replacing Centennial pool or doing something in conjunction with it to provide competitive swimming in our community. After those visits, the parks and rec staff started to do a master plan, which included looking at the facilities that were needed within our community. And the the competitive pool was one of those that were identified as something that needed to be at least looked at. And shortly thereafter, city council accepted the park trail and park recreation and trail master plan, and around 2014 directed staff to do a study of a competitive pool and an ice rink for our community. Shortly after that, we we've done a couple of reports back to the city council with our findings. And then in early 2018 Council directed that these this ballot question be put to the voters and ask their opinion about whether we should have them or not.

Tim Waters 4:58
So that so it started in 2014 with the master plan, feasibility study initiated or triggered in 2015. And and then it's been grinding forward since that's correct. All right talk just for the record. What is in the proposal because there's a lot of different views or understanding about what it actually includes.

Jeff Friesner 5:19
Right. So included in this facility would be a 50 meter 10 Lane swimming pool, that would be able to have a bulkhead installed so that we could do 2025 yard lanes at any one time. It also has an NHL size hockey rink, it has spectator ater areas for both the pool and ice. It has a leisure pool, which will allow warmer water zero depth entry and will be great to

to allow additional swim lesson opportunities. It will also have a fitness area and then a multi

purpose room that could be used for fitness classes or birthday parties or other types of programming opportunities just just

Tim Waters 6:10
to so I'm clear zero get the entries like a like a ramp. Yep, a little little ones to watch. So a favor for old people like me.

Jeff Friesner 6:19
People are familiar with the recreation leisure pool, it goes from deck and you step into the water at virtually zero to two inches. And the further you go in the deeper the water gets right.

Tim Waters 6:32
So if the bat if ballot question 3d passes, has a site been selected for its location,

Jeff Friesner 6:38
a slide has not been selected. There are four that were identified in the feasibility study. The first one is at the coil campus where the Rec Center museum is located in north of the tennis courts. The second location is at Dry Creek community park, which is at clover basin and Grandview meadows. The third location is at Clark Centennial Park. If you're familiar with the park where the track is on the west side, it would be built in that area. And then the fourth one is at Montgomery farms, which is located at highway 66. And county light line road. So voters

Tim Waters 7:22
if they if they vote to approve this will be voting to support no matter where it goes. That's correct. And then there'll be a as I think I heard Brian say once upon a time a food fight that will ensue terms of where it might be located. He said that with tongue in cheek. So there's been concerned or speculation about the school districts involvement. Just what are the facts on the school districts involvement in this project.

Jeff Friesner 7:50
So the school district is is not a partner in building the facility, what they've done is they've signed a letter of intent with the city of Longmont that they would be a renter of the facility if it is built. And that that letter of intent is based sets of fee that they would pay the city based on an hourly rate per per lane, and that commits up to $357,000 annually for that rent.

Tim Waters 8:19
If ballot question 3d passes, what are the steps the studio have to take prior to construction? Obviously, selecting a site is one but well what else would happen? If that's not a fair question for you? That you can pass on it? But some idea what should

Jeff Friesner 8:33
people? Well, I think I can respond to that that certainly the The location is going to be one of the biggest issues that will need to address. We'll also do some community meetings to make sure that we have covered all of the appropriate aspects of of hosting hockey tournaments, or hosting swim meets or diving competitions, as well as meeting with the fitness community to make sure that we have a facility that accommodates the type of interest that they have regarding their health. After that, we would go into a bid process with our probably not a bid, excuse me, not a bid process. But we had to enter into an agreement with our design folks to develop construction documents. So we'll have first day of do conceptual with the detail then they would do the construction documents, which would get us to a point of where we could go to bid on the construction, my estimate would be that it takes 18 months to 24 months to build once we've gotten the bids received.

Tim Waters 9:45
So if if it passes 24 months before you'd see something on the ground underway, talk about what it what happens if it doesn't pass. If if the if it fails, is there a city plan? Are you in involved in conversations about swimming, competitive or leisure, and it needs recreation needs of the community if it fails,

Jeff Friesner 10:07
right, so I have not been a part of conversations. We would stay status quo with working with Centennial pool. I think at some point time, staff will need to revisit with counsel with their their direction be to solve the concerns that you know, Centennial pool is 45 years old. We have had consultants estimate that the life without a major investment could be three to five years. So we will need to get councils direction on how we move forward and in the future.

Tim Waters 10:47
You made reference to the maintenance and operation there are there are maintenance and operation costs associated with these kinds of facilities. What does the city anticipate these costs to be? How will they be covered?

Jeff Friesner 11:02
So what what else explain is that the recreation division has a cost recovery policy that requires us to bring in in fees and charges 80% of everything we would spend minus free community events much like rhythm on the river and Longmont lights and capital over $5,000. So that it would be my belief that council would want to do that same type of cost recovery at a new facility if if it was to be built, we estimate that the operational costs to do a pool a nice facility as as described earlier today will be just under $2.7 million to operate it. We estimate we bring in over $2 million in revenue through our fees and charges, which would leave a shortfall of $636,100. there abouts included in the ballot question is point 03 percent tax that would pay for the ongoing operation of the pool and ice rink if it was built that part of the sales tax. And I assume you may talk with Gordon and Brian here shortly about that. But that will that part of the tax would not sunset it would stay on for us to be able to continue to to operate the facility to for the years to come.

Tim Waters 12:36
And just so we're all clear. That point 03 percent is that to cover that gap that 700 $680,000 gap or is it to generate the first 2 million and we are still a gap to cover

Jeff Friesner 12:49
know that fill the gap that of the 636,000.

Tim Waters 12:53
Alright, any other operational concerns, Jeff, that you want to address before we get into advocacy?

Unknown Speaker 12:59
Now, I think that covers

Tim Waters 13:01
what I what I can share today. So probably oughta we probably ought to add that if people if listeners do have if this conversation strikes, other questions for people about operations, you're easily reached through the city website to answer those questions. Absolutely. All right. Okay, so stick around, just in case you'll enjoy the conversation that's about to ensue. But if there are other operational costs, I won't I said I won't ask you to weigh in with as an advocate. But just if there are technical information that we need, you'll be helpful. So with that, I'm going to turn to Brian and Gordon, you've had a chance to hear from Jeff, that's not new information for you fellows. I know. But Brian, I'm going to give you a chance to start on the pro side of this. And rather than this be a debate, I'd like it to feel kind of like we're sitting in a coffee shop. And and and we'll get the attention of other people in the coffee shop who's picking up the bill for us. It's gonna be spirited. But But I don't want it to be a debate like you know, timed responses and whatnot. But I don't want to constrain either I want to invite you to weigh in with I know you're both passionate about this, you're both well informed, and you bring a whole lot of IQ points into the conversation. So the community is going to benefit from this. Brian, get us started with the pro side of this. All right.

Brian Bagley 14:14
So So first of all, you're right. I am and I am personally passionate about this. And I've said it before that I do have a IM Jenna, part of the reason I want to do this today is I want to understand why there's any any type of pushback on this facility.

As it's already been mentioned, by Mr. Freezing over here, I'm sorry, I guess it's just Jeff for today, right? Yeah. Jeff Jeff, but Centennial pools built 1974 and except for those six lanes, we have no competitive swimming facility. Everything in this town is only a leisure pool. So imagine for a second Longmont having kickball courts, the no full size basketball courts. Imagine that we have an outdoor, half court or an in

half court. And then somebody coming forward and saying, you know what, we really need a full size basketball court and everyone's saying on, we're good. We can you know, half courts are fine. You know, you can play outdoors in the summertime, you can do that half court thing. You know, when it's snowing outside, we're good. That's the equivalent, right? And so, Centennial pool has, you know, anywhere from three to five years left, at which point if we do nothing, we will have no facilities in Longmont that are capable of actually having competitive swimming. And I mean competitive swimming in the sense of being able to actually swim up and down do lap swimming with multiple people in your lane. The rec center, for example, when it was built, I don't know, 21 years ago, for example, the lanes are too narrow. There's no spectator seating. There's no it is not it was not built or planned appropriately, in order to host High School, United States swimming in the any type of lap swimming where you can observe or actually have multiple people in the lane. It just doesn't exist that capability in our town. And so if you're going to have to be rebuilt, let's suppose it's going to cost 30 million to rebuild Centennial, you know, from the ground up? Why not build a new brand new facility for 45.5 million and have things like, you know, a capacity for seating 600 family members as they watch their kids swim? Or why don't we build a facility that can actually host and bring in economic development and revenue where we host swim meets. And in addition to the pool, why not have a facility where we can have a full sized sheet of ice. People Keep Talking about hockey, the school district doesn't even have a hockey team. I personally don't care. I mean, people like ice skating. I mean, if you go to the ice rinks in the region, they're always full with hockey teams, ice skating other activities.

Tim Waters 17:00
Let's Yeah, on the facilities capacity features, let's pause right there. Yeah, give Gordon a chance to weigh in. Whether you want to weigh in on those those issues or, or pick it up someplace else, but try to balance this. So you know, we get all of the perspectives out on the table I can keep talking for I know you can't so and i don't i don't want to cut anybody off. I want to get all of the perspectives into this conversation. But But I want to invite Gordon,

Gordon Pedrow 17:24
well, first off, I'd like to make sure that we all understand that this is not a situation where we either do absolutely nothing. Or we go with the Taj Mahal,

Olympic sized competitive pool, and a National Hockey League size shoe device. It seems like that's the parameters that we're talking about. And that's not the case. Everyone recognizes that Centennial pool has a limited life. It's going to have to have reinvestment. We need additional swim lanes, but we don't have to have a competitive pool specially

we do not have a partner that we need in this endeavor. And so I just like to make a couple of statements from the feasibility study that was done for the city about this facility. Number one, a 33 meter pool is adequate to serve the needs of the swim community, to the school district and their swim teams or a primary user, the centennial pool, and one main reason for justifying and large competitive pool. Three, the substantial capital investment being required for either a 33 or 50 meter pool, financial participation by the school district will be central, for it is unrealistic to expect the city of Long log to be the sole funder of a project of this magnitude. And five, a competitive aquatic center that includes a 50 meter tank will require a significant equity partner to share not only the development costs, but also the operational funding. So my point that I really want to make is, we do not have a partner, Jeff mentioned that the school district has signed a letter of intent, saying they will do such and such. But that letter of intent states, this letter sets forth the intent of the parties only, and is not a contract or in any other way legally binding upon the parties. I think that it's really critical for us all to recognize that your own feasibility analysis said certain things, and you've basically been willing to ignore them completely. And that's just on the Aquatic Center. Now we get to the ice rink, where we have a whole nother magnitude of issues.

Tim Waters 19:49
All right, that's what you're gonna kick it back. Good place to pause. I'm going

Brian Bagley 19:52
to pick it up. Absolutely. First one is feasibility study. What was the date was the data feasibility study 2015. So hold on, so it was 2015. When it was written, we do have a partner. Now you can call it partner with a capital P or partner with a small p, the school district, that letter of intent. First of all, they have committed $357,000 a year, that's going to be a couple hours a day utilizing the lanes for their various boys and girls Swim, swim teams. After that our community will be able to use that pool. All they want not just the wealthy as some have been mistakenly promoting in the community. Everyone will have access seniors, children, swim lessons, scuba diving, leisure, swimming, all of it. The other thing is that 33 meter pool. Now we can go in and argue about it. That might work. If you're a parent and you want your kids swimming at four o'clock in the morning. It doesn't work. Yes, we could squeeze everybody in, but 20 lanes that it's not that it's an Olympic pool, Taj Mahal. It's that I mean, even though it's not technically built this way, 10, lean spit 10 lanes, 50 meters, if you flip it to what side you get 2025 yard lanes, you can either build one Taj Mahal facility, or you could build three more Centennial pools. This is cost effective. And people keep saying for example, where we going to get the money again, the 2015 report that you just studied, let me tell you how we're going to spend the money. So right now, that same feasibility study says that we are going to have a $636,106 shortfall. We've already heard Jeff reason. And I believe this when you're when you were city manager, you also follow this same cost recovery. Paul, we left titles out of here, and it's right. No, no, no, no, I know. But But I'm just pointing out that he I'm just saying that he he's aware of the policy. And so right now we all know that the quayle campus does not cover all of its costs. There is a deficit every year that the city council and the city budget covers, for example, at the quail recreation center, we spend $20,250, every year in water that is paid for by the water fund. We have capital purchases and improvements that range anywhere from 200,000 to $400,000. A year that comes out of our public improvement fund. We also have a $4 and 53 cent per square foot facility fee. That's $287,655. This is just prequel campus, and that comes out of our general fund. Now let's talk Centennial pool. Right? Let's talk some cool so that $636,000 that was before the school district decided to partner with us. Now you can say well, we're going to partner by building up front, or you know what we're going to contract, we're going to rent the facility. Now you might say yeah, but they can get out of it in a time. It's just a letter of intent. There is no way if we have a facility with 2025 yard lanes available. And it's a fair, appropriate market based price that the school district is going to require its parents to drive to Boulder, or out to Frederick or Firestone or Loveland, there will be a mutiny, they are going to be using this facility no matter what because they have nowhere else to go. But Centennial pool right now. Right now spends $4,808. on water, they the capital improvements on this, you know, ancient facility. Again, they are also 200,000 to $400,000 a year. So even if we take it on the low end 200,000. And then we put on the 4808. Oh, and the facilities maintenance of $64,942 Centennial pool has a deficit of 600 or $269,750. Every year, after taking into account the school districts commitment, guess what this facility is going to cost us $279,106 approximately a $10,000 difference that I'm pretty sure we can find out as I once asked the marijuana tax, we put $317,000 into the city managers discretionary fund. And another thing I just got to say it right now. So the opposition is putting out this flyer that says that it's that it's a eight to 18. It's a buck 80 on every hundred dollars spent. And I'm not saying this is you, Gordon, but they're putting them on doorsteps that it's going to cost us $1 80 in taxes for every $100. We spent No, no, it's eight teen sense. And then after 20 years, it goes to three sets. So this is not only a facility we need, it's something we can easily afford by replacing Centennial pool.

Tim Waters 24:33
So there were a lot of numbers you just ran through. Just do one right?

Brian Bagley 24:37
Well, I'm just laying it out.

Tim Waters 24:39
I'm just going to try and tell you what I think I heard you said that are that we incur costs now in other Jeff, maybe you can check this for me that what we heard is that we incur costs now for other facilities that are comparable to what the costs are associated with the new fiscal is that would that be a roll up of what Brian just said?

Jeff Friesner 25:03
I would agree with that. I believe that's what he's saying.

Brian Bagley 25:06
That's exactly what I'm saying. It's

Jeff Friesner 25:08
just because there were a lot of we cannot operate it,

Brian Bagley 25:10
we can afford it because we are affording it now a much worse a substandard facility.

Tim Waters 25:16
Gordon, you want to engage on the finances of this operational cost noise?

Gordon Pedrow 25:20
Yes, because and all the numbers being thrown out and all that passion, I think we're still missing something. And I don't want to cast aspersions. But I find it interesting that elected officials so can easily model an issue. And I want to go back to this letter of intent that the city and the school district cares. It is not an obligation. And you and I both know that under Tabor there are limited opportunities for the school district to enter into any multi year debt or financial obligation. They specifically indicated in their lives been 10, that those issues all have to work out. So basically, yes, the school district has said they will pay 350,020 23 or whenever the facilities open, but they're not obligated in any way to do it. And if they run into a financial situation, they have no obligations to the city of Long want to pay anything. And I don't think you should discount that. Because you're basically then saying to the voters of Longmont, those who are at the upper end of the economic spectrum, and those are the laurean, you should pay your sales tax. And you're going to build this facility regardless of whether or not we have the capacity in the long run to do this. And I I hate to say it, but 2015 feasibility study is the one that you guys are making your decisions on. So don't make it don't turn around and make it look like I'm using an old study. I'm using the exactly what study you're using and the facts that are in it.

Brian Bagley 26:54
Now, I wasn't saying that. I'm just not saying I wasn't implying it was an outdated study, what I was saying is that that study was done properly are to approaching the school district and getting their commitment. And so in the we have a commitment from the school district. And as you mentioned, I'm an elected official, I'm not modeling the issue, because I'm also speaking as an attorney, there are ways to get around paper that will allow this school board to commit contractually to lease for this facility.

Gordon Pedrow 27:20
Ask a question. Sure. So you just said you're an attorney. So as an attorney, is this, is this an obligation or commitment? This letter says 1410 of the parties only and is not a contract? or in any other way legally binding upon the parties? You're an attorney? Would you take that to the bank?

Brian Bagley 27:39
Guess what? How much money has been spent? None. So right now it comes in steps. It comes in steps right now we have the verbal written commitment. Yeah. Can we hold them accountable right now? No, but guess what, there's no facility. There's nothing to pay. But we right now, this is about getting voter approval to move forward to create a final question, public input. And the move forward. This is a recreation center, just like when you as the city manager built the quail Valley campus that was a rec center, this facility will be almost identical, except it will have ice and a larger pool, it will have a workout room, a cardio room, it's going to have a multi use room, it's going to have a group exercise studio. So other than a climbing wall and three basketball courts taken away from it. This facility, it is a rec center. And not only that, the school district will participate. And now if they don't, we'll have to revisit it. But this isn't about like we're going to vote for it. And then after that, we're just going to do whatever we need to. I mean, we've I've heard these same arguments about village at the peaks. I've heard about oil and gas, everybody always seen oh my gosh, the money is not going to work. It will work.

Tim Waters 28:52
Let me Gordon,

Gordon Pedrow 28:54
just want to remind everybody that you're going to the voters and asking them, whether they should vote for this, the ultimate decision is going to be made by the voters. And they are the ones that need to know the real facts and not conflated or exaggerated facts. And that's why I'm trying to point out we don't have a commitment. And that's all I just want everybody understand the voters are going to decide. And they ultimately have the right to this,

Brian Bagley 29:20
although although I'm going to take it personal issue. I'm not muddling anything. Right? You're You're I mean, you're starting to imply that I'm an elected official that I'm trying to muddle this. And if we want to start getting into history, and what goes on behind the scenes in this town, we can do that.

Tim Waters 29:37
Let's just let's just rather than go there. Yeah, let's let's not go there. Let's be let me try to I'm going to try to some talk about the model stuff. I'm going to try to summarize again, what you just said, and that is that, that what Letters of Intent precede contracts. And I'm not advocating I'm trying to class

Brian Bagley 29:56
letter for letters of intent, or what happens before you sign.

Tim Waters 30:00
Green wouldn't have a contract until you had a facility for which you're contracting issues. Correct. So since we're talking about finances, let's spend just a moment on the decision to put this on the ballot using a sales tax to cover costs bursting versus a property tax or a mill levy. may or may not be controversial. But I do think it's worth commenting on. Either. This is I know this isn't an advocacy position, or simply information. So I would like someone who has a point of view on this. If these two don't, Jeff, you could just wait him. But we'll wait and see Jeff, what do you think? But But there has been some discussion about why a sales tax versus a property tax, because the sales tax is probably the most or one of the most regressive forms of taxation along with income tax. So who wants to pick that up,

Gordon Pedrow 30:57
I will pick it up. Sales tax is one of the most crucial Percy forms, that means the poor people are paying a higher portion of their incomes. And now there's property tax would reverse that and make it so that those who are most able to afford it. But I think that probably the council decided not to take a property tax view because they didn't think it would pass.

Brian Bagley 31:18
That's not the reason why the reason why we didn't take your property tax views because right now we have 100,000 residents 500,000 people use the pool campus 200,000 every year use it at Centennial. And a lot of those people don't live here. So why not have the people that use the pool pay for the pool, and it doesn't matter if you're poor or wealthy, everyone's gonna have access to this facility. And again, it's 18 cents on every hundred bucks, three cents for operating and maintenance. So in this particular case, sales tax will allow us to capture non Longmont residents who use our facility and come into our town to use the facility and also for other things shopping, etc.

Tim Waters 31:58
The other comment, otherwise I'm gonna move on. One of the one of the cases that is made for and against this facility is whether it's serving Longmont or whether it's serving a larger region. Now in the feasibility study, there was a an estimate of the size of the population required to support this kind of a facility. And that circle, as I recall, looking at the feasibility study was larger than the Long Island City Limits. So what are your views? Is this a Is this a local facility? Or is a regional facility? And what are the implications is either or both? Who would like to? Is that? Is that a point of contention?

Brian Bagley 32:44
Well, I think I don't know. I don't want to speak for you, Gordon. But I think we both agree that this is a regional facility, meaning that it's being built and designed so that we can capture ice hockey teams, for example, as well as regional swim meets. Right now we've got two facilities, we've got the epic center up north it in Fort Collins, we've got v Mac down south and Aurora is it for Thornton, Jordan. So right now, those facilities host the state swim meets and the big Invitational that the facility is being designed so that would be able to host those types of events, which would cover the facilities costs as well as further foster local economic activity when they come here to the event.

Gordon Pedrow 33:32
So I believe that definitely a regional facility, it is going to cover the entire St. Rain Valley School District which were from Harry to birth it or Mead, and east and west the same thing. That's why I think that as opposed to having the cities of Longmont saddled with this project, much the way the consultant said it shouldn't be that it should be a month wider effort in this school district was truly going to partner they had step up. And they would be the catalyst for getting all the cities in the cities would collaborate with each other, and that we would have a regional facility wouldn't have to be in long one, it could be right outside along mountains and serve our citizens as well as all the rest in the district. And that's the type of regional effort we should have in collaboration. The other

Brian Bagley 34:23
comment, I just disagree. This is I mean, you might be serving the region, but it's also it's a long month facility, period, full stop. And not only that, it's like I mean, a lot of times, I believe that certain members of our community fear that this council and this administration, meaning Harold and his staff, we're going to make mistakes that have been made before. We're doing this right, we're not making a mistake here. Like for example, when the school district the whole reason why are part of the reason that we're we're having a problem here is that the school district currently paid nothing for poor use. There was an agreement at some point signed far before way before I became a city council member that basically permits the school district free access to our facilities. And so they're not contributing anything right now. By having a new facility, they are now going to be contributing. So just because they haven't contributed in the past by agreement, doesn't mean that they won't in the future, they will be required to pay and contribute moving forward. So

yes, all the more reason, again, for sales tax.

Tim Waters 35:35
So one of the one of the kind of delineation between those who support and those who don't, the ballot, question three be is along the idea of what we need as a community versus what we want as a community. In my introduction, I made the comment that what some people on this and on a whole bunch of other issues, what some see as the solution to a problem is the new problem for others. So I don't know if that's the way to frame this. But I do know that there's been a differentiation from those who favor and those who don't, along what we need versus what we want as a community. And we ought to be focused more on what we need. Before we focus on what we want. You guys want to pick that up on either side of this, do we need this? Or is

Gordon Pedrow 36:24
this I think it's important for because I think that we do need more pool space, it could be developed as in the form of another recreation facility similar to quail campus located somewhere else in the community, with amenities of pool additional lanes, and that we could meet our needs, even the needs that the consultant has indicated. We then go to the matter of ice rink. And I think that is truly a frivolous walk is not a need, and one that the city council has decided the majority of them to take them together and tax our residents a whole lot for one way of doing it. And there would be other ways of addressing the needs that we have in our community.

Brian Bagley 37:16
You want to respond to that? Well, first of all, it's not taxing a whole lot. It's going from a sales tax of 3.53% to 3.71%. That's not a whole lot. It isn't increase, but I wouldn't qualify it as a whole lot. We also this council we don't just necessarily so far we done your part of that is Dr. Walker's

Tim Waters 37:35
kind of play this one straight down

Brian Bagley 37:37
the way. But

we just don't I mean to use one of Gordon's favorite words, we don't just do things at least I don't willy nilly. Right. We went out we had community engagement. We had polls, we had I mean, I mean we did our homework on this, what do you qualify it is a need or a want is irrelevant. This community wants this and therefore it as an elected official, I would argue therefore we need it. Now, we might argue the definition of what's the one or What's the need, but if we're going to start defining this facility as a want, well then let's go ahead and just scrap the plans. We just started a feasibility study which I support for the Civic Center, meaning a conference center and a performing arts center. Let's while we're at it, let's scrap the you know, let's stop rebuilding the the trails and the parks. Let's scrap basketball courts, let's scrap the quail Valley campus because we really don't need a rec center. And let's don't even rebuild Centennial, because we don't need a pool. I mean, the purpose of city government is to provide amenities that we as individuals cannot provide on our own, whether it be streets, whether it be parks, this is another amenity that will allow our residents to enjoy a beautiful long lot. And not only that, when we have a beautiful Longmont, guess what those who live here are more willing to contribute to other things like affordable housing, homelessness, so social services. And so we can't I mean, it's a balancing act. And so painting this debate is, you know, this is a Taj Mahal only for the wealthy, it's going to tax the poor. It's not, it's just another facility that we can enjoy and take our kids too. And I always point out that I don't know if it was during your time or before your time. But when the Justice Center and the library were built, I mean, people were up in arms, what do we need this for a city hall and a Justice Center and a library, we're just fine the way we are. There were recall threats. And I think there might have even been recalls over the issue. But guess what, nobody remembers because we have beautiful buildings that provide services and amenities that we want, need, call it what you will, but they're part of our community that we love, and we use, that's what I want to see this facility become time.

Gordon Pedrow 39:50
So I would like to follow up on that. For it to be said that this is just a very small tax increase. And so therefore, everybody she just accepted, and it's not in any big deal. I think that that's missing the point of you just adopted, it yearly rate increases for water and electric 9% and 4%, you had feedback, at least in the newspaper about, we can't keep affording these utility increases. So the city council said well will increase the rebates we give for people under a certain amount of income. So in your own decision making you recognize that these utility increases, which are essential, must be passed on our problem for significant part of our community, and that they need to have some relief. And so you add all those going up every year, and then you throw on property or sales tax, that addresses all these individuals with another one that they don't have a chance to avoid. And it adds up to real money for people who who are real residents who are being impacted by wants or needs, it does make a difference whether their needs or whether their wants. And I believe that you're not willing to accept that as long as you can get a majority the voters who are going to turn out in November 5, to say yes, you're willing to just say that's the way it's going to go. And we're going to have a great facility. And that's just going to be wonderful. But it may not be wonderful for everybody in our community. And we need to worry about those that deliver lesser end of the income scale.

Brian Bagley 41:29
Well, thank you for putting words in my mouth, Gordon. But no. So obviously, whenever you have rate increases, it's going to hurt, right, obviously. But let's go ahead and talk about some of the issues that we've had, right? Basically, I look at this as we're fixing problems from the past. So first of all, this city built parks, this pit, the city built built trails without taking into account future operating and maintenance. One of the things this city council had to do was clean up over previous administrations in order to find the dollars to maintain its parks, which meant cutting back on actual creation of parks. The other thing is the water rates went up because again, previous administrations in this city failed to catch or failed to upkeep or failed to renew the infrastructure on our water, those 9% are redoing our water infrastructure. It wasn't because council all of a sudden, you know what, we're going to raise rates because we really want to stick it to the little guy. previous administrations failed to do the upkeep. Now we have to replace it all. Now the electricity being on the PRP, a Platte River Power Authority Board. That's basically if you look at it, it's basically the cost of inflation. And it sucks. If I could, I would provide water and I would provide electricity and I would provide swimming pools for free. But if we follow the argument that will we can't all afford it. We would not have anything in this town.

Tim Waters 42:53
So I'm going to go to my last question. And then we'll have any final thoughts or if I've missed something that you you guys want to weigh in on, I'm going to invite you to do that as well. On this ballot, there are multiple questions that the city spliced on in their ballot questions that the state or others through the initiative process in place. This is the one in Long Island that has a tax increase associated with it. There are other ballot questions that are tax related but don't call for a tax increase. But I know there are residents in the community who are thinking down the road. There was a conversation earlier in the year about a year from now a potential county Affordable Housing Tax. We know that our Longmont Performing Arts Initiative they're involved right now. And Brian, you mentioned the feasibility study on the convention, or maybe it's a conference center and and performing arts center. So there are these other interests in the community that might be competing. So there's the bigger frame on this is if this fails, that the issues regarding access to facilities Don't go away. Right? Whether what's a want or a need? It's still in front of the city, what to do with swimming lanes or, you know, access to swimming pools, whether there's a nice shoot or not. And then and then what comes in over the top of that is the competing interest potentially or other interests, whether they're competing or not. Those who have a concern at this past is what happens to us a year from now. So the concerns about is there enough affordable housing, can we do this and that all those things are playing out in this conversation. So one last opportunity to address what are what are their competing interests? What what what is your advice to those who see this as competing with their interests? How should you How should they think about this? How would you like to frame it for them?

Gordon Pedrow 44:52
Well, I think that the voters should have this fail, they should turn it down. And then that will be sending signaled to the city council that it needs to get real and deal with our real needs. And that would be in the form of a recreation center someplace else in the community that has additional swim opportunities. And that if they do that, they will recognize that the needs can be addressed at a much lesser cost. And I think that the citizens need to recognize, as been mentioned, that the city council is already doing a study for performing arts facility, they already have a study underway or soon will be underway. Looking at the library Master Plan, which very likely from listening to many members of the city council may involve a tax increase for us Library District, and then the convention center. So there are a number of things coming down the pike that I believe our residents need to keep in mind that they may be asked to vote for additional sales are property tax on top of this one, and that they need to help the council re prioritize and focus on needs.

Unknown Speaker 46:09

Brian Bagley 46:10
Yeah, I mean, first of all, it's not even I mean, just to add to your argument. I mean, it's not even just that. I mean, right now we've got a $9 billion want. As far as transportation goes in the state, we've got $6.7 billion for absolute needs. When it comes to transportation in the state. The voters turn that down. So there's going to be some type of local solution, you know, at least on a regional level, they're called RTAS and MPO, O's and cogs and all the Regional Transportation Authority. Yeah, yeah. And so I mean, so there's all kinds, I mean, you're right, we might, we might have a discussion on on a library. Again, if that happens, it's substituting You know, one form of dollar for another. But it doesn't have to be a zero sum game. You know, this community. So often, I mean, so often gets like, torn up over candidates, parties. And, and again, this happens to be the local sport at the moment, ice rink, and swimming pools. But at the end of the day, whether you want to call it a want or a need, it's 18 cents for every hundred bucks, three cents for operating and maintenance ongoing once the facility is complete. And I mean phrases. I mean, for example, he said someplace else in our community, we haven't even decided where we're going to put it in our community. Right. And so, right now, we have a feasibility study that you've quoted, but I'm sitting here I wish we were on TV because I'm looking at a picture. And that picture certainly looks like a recreation center. To me. That includes an indoor leisure pool, lazy river splash pond slides, and includes a a 20 2025 yard lane, competitive pool, locker rooms, restrooms, viewing areas, administration office, multi-use rooms, it does have an ice center, team changing rooms, skate rental, viewing for the skating area, group exercise studios, a fitness center, which means cardio and weights, seating for 600 people, I seating for 750 people. I don't know how to describe it any other way. Other than this is a great facility, a recreation center that we not only need and want, but we deserve. And we can afford it, while still making sure that we spend a million a million dollars out of our general fund every year for our affordable housing. So what while still making developers contribute 12% of their housing stock is permanently affordable. We can still provide and support, you know, you know, 1.5 million towards our nonprofits. No one's talking about giving up those things. And I'll be the first person advocate when the facility comes up for a vote on the Performing Arts Center. We can we can afford that to and guess what, whether it's want or need is irrelevant. We need a facility in our town. So I mean, this is what city governments about vigorous debate taking it to the voters. I hope that they will see that this want is what we deserve that it is indeed something we need. And we haven't this council mate years I've been here the two years since I've been mayor, but we haven't bankrupted the city yet. And more, Willa, you're going to get Gordon you're gonna get last word here.

Tim Waters 49:27
Okay, guys, he well, as long as he doesn't say a bankrupted the city. Let me make one comment. But you could go. Brian started, you get to finish. just just just one technical bit of information. The the feasibility study that the performing arts that la pi has is contracted for isn't the city contributed to the funding for that along with a number of other groups in town? That's not the city. That's not the city's contract with the consultant. That's Lapides contract just as a tattoo, it will come back to the city no doubt for in some way. Well, I would assume it would, at some point in time in the future, just technically, we did do we do have a contract to the city for a consultant to advise on the library to cut to there to visit ballistic feasibility studies underway. One the city's contracted for one the pies contracted for just as a technical bit of information. You bet you have last word.

Gordon Pedrow 50:22
Okay. Just add on that those two feasibility studies. City has money in both of them. So therefore, is part of our obligations to follow through on. So on saying that, Brian, based on what you're saying this community deserves, I just say to the citizens, grab your wallets because texts and spend is coming your way.

Tim Waters 50:47
All right, Jeff, any other operational considerations we got to hear from about Nope, I think we've heard enough today. Okay. In that case, long month listeners, that is the backstory on ballot question three be. Thank you, gentlemen, for your involvement this morning.

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