Strike three for Proposition 1

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Strike three for Proposition 1

Erika Fisher | Hawkeye

Erika Fisher | Hawkeye

Erika Fisher | Hawkeye

Erika Fisher | Hawkeye

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After being placed on the ballot three times, twice under the same circumstances, Proposition 1 failed once again on April 23.

With just a 53.4 percent vote in favor of Prop. 1, it fell short of the 60 percent requirement, as it has twice before.

If the bond measure had passed, it would have supported a combined city hall and extended police department, new community center, and funding for the library and other buildings. The proposed bond was $25 million, a $12.5 million reduction from the original bond proposal in 2010.

Though it wasn’t successful, chair of the YES for MLT Prop. 1  Campaign Linda Rogers said, “I don’t know what we could have done differently so that the proposition would have passed.”

Rogers suggested it failed due to misinterpretation of the campaign’s message.

“I don’t think the general public really understands what was being asked for and, as best we tried, they just weren’t listening,” Rogers said.

Opponents claimed the proposition failed simply because it wasn’t right for the city.

“A lot of people voted no because they don’t trust the city, or because it was too costly,” NO Campaign supporter Leonard French said.

Opponents also said the proposition included too many additional expenses.

“I’m not convinced that we need a senior center or a community center. What we need is a city hall,” French said.

MLT City Councilman Bryan Wahl said, “I don’t think the NO Campaign was opposing the city hall, just the price and the package. We need to have a collaborative conversation to find compromise. Then we can find the permanent solution that we can all move forward with, together.”

Before a permanent solution is reached, however, the city must find funds to continue renting the interim city hall.

“The immediate need, beginning in 2014, is the continued rent for [the interim city hall]. This is necessary to be able to continue providing community services,” reported city manager John Caulfield.

According to Wahl, rent would probably only be needed for the next two to three years, at $500,000 per year. Meanwhile, the city council must figure out the next steps in acquiring its own city hall.

One of the potential solutions under consideration is requesting a levy lid lift. This would temporarily raise property taxes about $60 per year to provide funding for the city to rent the interim city hall. Passage for this solution would only require a vote of 50 percent plus one.

If the levy lid lift were to fail, the city would have to make some even harder decisions. To find savings within the budget, officials may have to cut services and lay city employees off. Police services and maintenance, among other things, potentially could be cut back to comply with the interim city hall rental.

In order to reach a permanent solution to the civic center issue, the city is requesting public input and community involvement.

“Nothing has been decided. The right answer to me is what the community comes back and tells us what they want. I won’t know what the answer is going to be until then,” Wahl said.

Whatever path the city council decides to take will not go into effect anytime soon. The 2013 budget is already in place, so the soonest there will be any differences in property taxes, funding, or services will be in 2014.