Saturday, February 24th, 2018

City Hall held town meeting

Community members attending town hall last Thursday, June 29, were encouraging of a $1 million proposal to finance a portion of Clarendon’s water recreation project and completion of the Mulkey Theatre.

The forum at the Bairfield Activity Center was attended by approximately 40 residents and included representatives of the city council, the water recreation steering and fundraising committees, and the Clarendon Economic Development Corporation Board.

Mayor Sandy Skelton welcomed the crowd and gave an overview of new businesses and other activities happening in the city over the last couple of years and noted that local sales tax revenue has doubled over the last 20 years.

“What the city is missing is recreation opportunities for people of all ages,” Skelton said.

Skelton gave an overview of the water recreation project and the ongoing effort to raise funds to match the challenge of an anonymous benefactor who wants to give the city $500,000 for that purpose. Fundraising has brought in more than $259,000 toward that match in donations or pledges.

CEDC Secretary Roger Estlack gave an update on the Mulkey Theatre and on action taken by the CEDC board in May that recommended $1 million be borrowed and financed with EDC sales tax revenue to complete the theatre and help meet the challenge for the water recreation project.

City Administrator David Dockery then went over the details of the financing. Half of the $1 million would go toward the Mulkey, and the other half would go to the pool. The money would be paid back over 20 years with an annual debt service of $74,400.

The debt payment would be covered by EDC sales taxes that are already being collected. Current annual EDC sales tax revenue is about $98,500. Looking at historical data from the last 20 years, Dockery said EDC annual revenue will likely be $136,422 in 2027 and $188,945 in 2037.

The debt service would not encumber any of the Hotel Occupancy Taxes administered by the EDC to fund local events and community promotional efforts.

A question was asked about borrowing more than needed to meet the water recreation challenge, but city officials said having additional funds better positions the project for upcoming grant applications.

Officials also fielded questions about parking, maintenance, management, and future needs of the water recreation project, all of which have been taken into consideration by the steering committee and the city.

As the meeting drew to a close, attendees were positive about the proposal and supported it by a show of hands as well as by comments.

Ten-year-old Ben Estlack said he supports the pool project because his family has to drive an hour away to go to a water park and he’d rather not have to go that far, and he said he also supports the Mulkey project.

Addressing a suggestion to scale back the water recreation project, Denise Bertrand urged leaders to not set the goal too low. That sentiment was shared by Howardwick resident Dusty Green, who said he had been to many communities in his travels and he and his wife are excited about Clarendon’s projects.

“This is a special place with a lot of value,” Green said. “Don’t just meet the minimum; dare to do more.”

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