GOSHEN — The Goshen Noon Kiwanis Club was the latest group to hear about the proposed Goshen Community Center at it meeting Tuesday afternoon.
Community Center director Bruce Stahly and Goshen Community Schools Superintendent Diane Woodworth were on hand at the meeting to detail the proposal to community leaders in the hope of at least getting the center onto a special ballot in May.
Stahly explained the history of the idea, the needs the center would address and the financial impact of the proposal.
Woodworth detailed some of the changes that would come about for the schools if the center was approved, including converting the Goshen Schools’ pools into physical education and wellness areas and expansion to allow more space for the music department.
Cost was a major concern for for club members, who raised questions about tax impact and operation costs, among other things.
Stahly stated that the center’s board hoped memberships would pay for much of the operating costs. Memberships would be $215 to $220 for individuals annually and $450 for families.
He also added that the group’s business plan shows the need to cover operating costs with an endowment, which it’s currently building, for the first four years of the center’s existence before it is projected to be able to cover all costs.
Jim McKee, a club member and Goshen City Councilman, said after the presentation that he was concerned about the cost for even getting a question regarding the center on the May ballot.
Stahly said that the cost to get the Community Center referendum on the special election ballot would be somewhere in the neighborhood of $48,000. He added, however, that if that cost was the only reason people were not prepared to allow the center to go before a vote, there would be a community member who would be willing to cover that expense.
Another of McKee’s concerns was how much taxes would be for businesses.
“I have a concern that businesses are unaware of the tax implication,” McKee said. “We have corporations that have huge tax dollars. Do they know that? Do they understand what the implications are?”
An illustration on the Community Center’s website noted that the yearly tax impact for a $100,000 rental or commercial property that falls in both the city and the school corporation would be $225.60.
The councilman added that the economy remains delicate and that the poverty level is on the rise.
McKee agreed that there needs to be something done about the aging pools at Goshen High School and Goshen Middle School, but said he’s not sure about the proposal for a Community Center.
“I do think the school has an issue with their pool,” he stated. “I think that something should happen to fix that but at this point I’m not convinced that the Community Center is the answer.”
Stahly reiterated during the presentation he only wishes residents to be able to vote on the proposal come May. “I knew that the referendum itself and voting to increase taxes is always a huge issue,” he said. “I did not anticipate that it would be an issue as far as whether we would let the citizens go forward with the referendum but there is legitimate concern among the city council in terms of going ahead with this referendum and letting the citizens vote.”
Woodworth noted that the school board is at this time, however, leaning toward approving the referendum to appear on the ballot.
The Goshen City Council will vote on whether or not to allow a referendum on the ballot at its next meeting on Jan. 15, while the school board will make its decision Jan. 28.
Should the referendums land on the ballot, the vote would be held on May 7, also allowing the county to test voting centers.
More information on the proposed Community Center, including a full business plan and tax impact, can be found on its recently launched website, goshencommunitycenter.com.