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Commissioners to consider election on fairgrounds building project

Portion of the crowd attending the Jan. 10 Boone County Commissioners meeting.
Portion of the crowd attending the Jan. 10 Boone County Commissioners meeting.
After meeting with more than 80 constituents on Wednesday, Jan. 10, the Boone County Commissioners decided to consider placing the new fairgrounds building on the election ballot later this year.
The merits of the proposed new agriculture and education building on the fairgrounds were discussed during a 1 1/2 hour session in the courtroom of the courthouse. More than 90 people were packed in the room.
The proposed building, with an estimated cost of $4.25 million, has been under discussion for several months. It would include a 150 x 300 foot steel building with a multi-use livestock arena, animal stalls and wash areas, with bleacher seating.
On the north side of the building would be a 70 x 150 foot structure that would house Extension offices, concessions, a conference room, restrooms and storage. This portion would be heated and cooled.
As proposed, the building would be located on the south side of the gravel road through the fairgrounds, east of the present outdoor arena and south of the Casey buiding.
The commissioners have approved a finance plan for the building that includes appropriation of $1.3 million from the Inheritance Tax fund. The board also authorized the County Agricultural Society to institute a building fund levy to finance $2.95 million of the cost.
In the discussion of financing, Commission Chairman Ken Luettel noted that the tax for financing $2.95 million over 10 years at 4.3 percent interest would be about $154 per $1 million of property valuation.
He noted that the commissioners’ resolution set a maximum limit for the Ag Society building levy of 3.5 cents per $100 of valuation. “We’re not planning on it being that high,” he said.
The meeting included comments from several people about the cost, and possible alternatives to the current building proposal were discussed. Some speakers said lesser facilities would still serve the purpose.
Commissioner Luettel said the reason for financing the property tax portion of the project through a building levy is to maintain ownership by the Ag Society. If the building is owned by the county (through bonding) alcoholic beverages could not be served there.
Early in the meeting John Johnson of Albion asked: “Why not put it on the ballot? Let the people decide. That would be the fair way to do this.”
A show of hands indicated a majority of those attending would favor a countywide vote on the project.
Commissioners noted that this type of levy or bond is allowable under state statute for a building project, without a bond election.
County Clerk Kathy Thorberg stated that a bond proposal would have to be submitted by March 1 in order to appear on the May 2018 primary election ballot.
Again at the end of the meeting, commissioners were asked to say whether they would vote in favor of holding an election on the building project.
Commissioner Luettel said he would be in favor of an election. Commissioners Hilary Maricle and Alan Rasmussen said they were not prepared to vote on this topic, but would review it and consider a vote at the next commissioners meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 16.
Complete details will be in the Jan. 17 Albon News Print and E-Editions.