GOSHEN — Discussion continued on the proposed Goshen Community Center at the Tuesday, Feb. 19, city council meeting, despite the fact that the referendum vote on the center has been postponed to November.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Council President Jim McKee introduced a resolution that would request Goshen Community Center Inc. to reimburse the city for the costs of the special election, which are estimated to be $58,000.
Currently, that cost would be split between the city and the schools in proportion to their costs on the project itself, but the resolution would request that the Community Center committee reimburse them for holding the election.
Jim McKee said he had wanted to word the resolution so that the council would ask, not demand, that the Community Center group cover the election. McKee explained that the resolution was not an act of revenge or spite. “We’re not mad at anybody, we’re not trying to retaliate or anything like that,” McKee said. “If there’s someone standing ready that would help the group out in their purpose, I think that would be a good thing.”
Some discussion centered around comments project director Bruce Stahly made at several presentations regarding the cost of the election. Stahly mentioned the cost of the special election being covered by an anonymous community member. There was a dispute over whether or not Stahly, who was not at Tuesday’s meeting, had stipulated that the cost would only be covered if the cost was the reason the council would vote against a referendum.
The status of the election cost was also a concern. Several council members and residents noted that there had been a handful of estimates put out already, and that the $58,000 that is the current estimate is still just an educated guess.
Councilman Jeremy Stutsman, who said he didn’t support asking the Community Center group to cover the cost of the election, stated that if the cost had been a concern of the council’s, it should have made it known. “I think if somebody did step forward to pay for it that’d be, obviously, a great thing. If this was a concern of the council, we should have brought this up before we voted.”
Stutsman also voiced concern that the resolution set a precedent for other groups coming to council with similar requests. “It’s almost like they’re buying our ‘yes’ votes,” he added.
Councilwoman Julia Gautsche noted that she thought it was appropriate to ask the group if they would cover some of the cost but added that she didn’t think doing it by resolution was appropriate.
During the public comment period, Glenn Null voiced his support for the resolution, saying the Community Center committee needed to “put their money where their mouth was.”
Null, along with several other residents, suggested the council rescind its previous vote to allow the referendum and vote later, as more information becomes available and the election approaches.
“I wanted to make sure when legal drew this up that we wanted to sound right, we didn’t want to sound demanding and aren’t ungrateful,” McKee said of his resolution. “But if someone is willing to, and they would absorb the cost and help the taxpayers out, great.”
“Well, the referendum isn’t going to happen until the fall,” councilman Everett Thomas noted. “Why do we need to vote on this tonight until we find out some of this information?”
The council postponed action on the resolution to have more time to consider options and gather more information about the election.