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Mac board outlines argument for the levy

Submitted by the Board of Directors

for the Madras Aquatic Recreation District

The MAC Recreation District Board of Directors is asking voters to approve a levy of 40 cents per $1,000 value in the upcoming May election. Some voters are asking why they should support the MAC Recreation District. Why should they pay more taxes for something they do not use? Why is the MAC asking for money again?

The reason the MAC Rec Board needs this levy is that the MAC simply cannot operate at the current level of funding. When the district was formed, the economy was booming. Planners were optimistic. Growth was coming to Madras. A bigger population means a bigger tax base and more recreation users. But as we have all seen, the growth didn’t happen. The economy shrunk. A dismal time for a new taxing district.

So, since its opening, the MAC Rec District has been swimming against the current. While the board watches the dollars carefully and the budget committee looks for more ways to trim down the budget, there is not much that can be cut when you are already operating on such a lean budget. (The current budget is available upon request at the MAC.)

Some suggest that the MAC continue to close for a period each year rather than levy more taxes to keep it open year-round. If the levy fails to pass, a one-month closure will not close the budget gap. Closures will likely need to be extended to two or possibly three months and fees will be increased. It doesn’t seem likely that people will want to pay a higher price for a membership with a shorter term. Increased costs of swimming lessons will price many out the water. Monthly dues for club swim team will need to be increased, not by a few dollars but to levels paid in bigger cities. Our competitive teams would shrink to small exclusive groups of those who can afford an expensive sport.

These alternatives do not meet the needs of our community nor the MAC’s commitment to community health.

Shortened daily hours or reduced days per week would not make a significant difference as the building and water still need to be heated to maintain a comfortable temperature.

Increased taxes are not on anyone’s list of favorite things. But the positives that these taxes can bring to our community are many. Improved livability, improved health and safe recreation are just a start. Visitors to the MAC eat at our restaurants, stay in our hotels and shop in our stores. Whether we participate in MAC Rec District. activities or not, we all benefit from what they do for the community.

The MAC Recreation District brings great activities for a variety of ages to our community. These activities bring people together to improve our health and our quality of life. Out-of-water programs organized by the MAC Rec District are currently funded by a Bean Foundation grant and user fees. The monies provided by this grant will be decreased over a five-year period. After the five years, the grant will end. We are currently in year two of funding.

A portion of the levy monies will help keep programs like indoor soccer, basketball for adults and children, open gyms and running races going. A portion will be set aside for maintenance and unforeseen capital expenses. Levy monies would enable the MAC Rec District to pay its bills without taking out annual loans or relying on the MAC Trust to seek donations for operating costs.

We know that we live in an economically distressed area. The MAC board feels that we can improve the standard of living for all here. Keeping the MAC Recreation District operating year around is one way to do this. Please vote “yes” for the MAC Levy.

The MAC Recreation District Board of Directors are Sally Gauvin, Anita Goodwin, Stephen Hillis, Heidi Boyle and Martha Bewley.




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