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Rec center idea dead for now

It appears as though Pulaski County residents will have to do without an indoor recreation center — at least for a while.
Pulaski County Board of Supervisors voted Monday night to hold off paying for a conceptual study and design of the center due to the uncertain economy.
“I just don’t think today would be a good day to move forward with (plans for a recreation center),” Ingles District Supervisor Ranny Akers said. “I can’t see us spending money on (a center) right now, so I don’t think the plans would be any use to us.”
A request to approve awarding of a contract for the plans followed a 90-minute public hearing on the setting of a new real estate tax rate for 2009-2010. Numerous residents who spoke during the hearing told the supervisors it’s time to tighten the county’s belt and put aside thoughts of a recreation center in this dwindling economy.
Rather than approve a 50-cent tax rate, the residents urged the supervisors to set a 46- to 47-cent rate. Under the lower rate, real estate revenue will remain equal to that under old property values. A 50-cent rate would result in $800,000 in additional real estate tax revenue.
After four straight months of hearing citizens express concern over paying their taxes under recent reassessments, Akers said he couldn’t “in good conscience” vote for the design study and plans.
He said to the best of his recollection, the conceptual study and designs were going to cost about $20,000 to $25,000.
“It bothers me to have to put down something (recreation center) I think the county could use, and that might even bring more people into the county,” Akers said. However, he said he doesn’t think this economy is the proper time to move forward with the project.
County Administrator Peter Huber said he requested approval for the design contract in the event federal economic stimulus money is made available for the center. He pointed out the stimulus plan will only fund “shovel ready” projects that are ready to go to construction.
Without the design plans in hand, the project most likely will not receive federal funds, Huber said.
In that case, Akers said, “I think the stimulus money would be better used for other projects that would benefit more people.”
If the county has to spend money on plans to get a project ready for stimulus money, he indicated he would rather see an investment in design plans for a new sheriff’s department building, which has been placed on hold for years.
Akers acknowledged he is a former employee of the sheriff’s office.
Robinson District Supervisor Charles Bopp said it would “certainly send the wrong message right now” to approve spending money for design plans that could “be better used for something else.”
Supervisor Chairman Joe Sheffey said it appears the chances of getting stimulus funds are slim if a project isn’t “ready to go.”
He noted a lot of Pulaski County residents are paying the City of Radford to use its indoor facilities. Given the wide range of ages he sees using Randolph Park in the summer, he said he believes “if we have an opportunity to get some federal money coming in, we should have (a project) ready” to use it.
Sheffey said he “can’t disagree that the sheriff’s department needs a new building.”
Akers said he has thought “long and hard” about the recreation center issue and he hopes that in a couple of years the economy will have improved so it can progress.
However, he noted that the crowd attending the public hearing Monday night was the largest yet. “I think we have some people who are going to be facing some hard times. I can’t in good conscience spend (the money for the study and plans) when we don’t know if we’re even going to get the stimulus money.
“When it comes down to the nuts and bolts, we have to do what it takes to protect our people … A recreation center could be a big plus for Pulaski County (in the future) — but it could be a big black eye today.”
He pointed out that the county has a YMCA that is “practically begging for members.”
Draper District Supervisor Dean Pratt agreed. He said he would “personally like to have” an indoor recreation center in the county, “but I don’t think the Pulaski County (taxpayers) should have to pay for it.”
He suggested a committee be formed to raise money for the center and then let the people who use it pay for it. “Especially right now, I don’t think the county can afford it.”
Frank Conner, who represents the Massie District, said he too would like to see the center built, “but it’s a bad time to look at something like this now.”
Akers made a motion to not fund the study and plans.
Bopp seconded the motion, which passed 4-1.
Before casting his vote, Sheffey said, “part of me says yes and part of me says no.” He ultimately voted against the motion, meaning he was in favor of proceeding with the concept study and design plans.

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Rec center idea dead for now

It appears as though Pulaski County residents will have to do without an indoor recreation center — at least for a while.
Pulaski County Board of Supervisors voted Monday night to hold off paying for a conceptual study and design of the center due to the uncertain economy.
“I just don’t think today would be a good day to move forward with (plans for a recreation center),” Ingles District Supervisor Ranny Akers said. “I can’t see us spending money on (a center) right now, so I don’t think the plans would be any use to us.”
A request to approve awarding of a contract for the plans followed a 90-minute public hearing on the setting of a new real estate tax rate for 2009-2010. Numerous residents who spoke during the hearing told the supervisors it’s time to tighten the county’s belt and put aside thoughts of a recreation center in this dwindling economy.
Rather than approve a 50-cent tax rate, the residents urged the supervisors to set a 46- to 47-cent rate. Under the lower rate, real estate revenue will remain equal to that under old property values. A 50-cent rate would result in $800,000 in additional real estate tax revenue.
After four straight months of hearing citizens express concern over paying their taxes under recent reassessments, Akers said he couldn’t “in good conscience” vote for the design study and plans.
He said to the best of his recollection, the conceptual study and designs were going to cost about $20,000 to $25,000.
“It bothers me to have to put down something (recreation center) I think the county could use, and that might even bring more people into the county,” Akers said. However, he said he doesn’t think this economy is the proper time to move forward with the project.
County Administrator Peter Huber said he requested approval for the design contract in the event federal economic stimulus money is made available for the center. He pointed out the stimulus plan will only fund “shovel ready” projects that are ready to go to construction.
Without the design plans in hand, the project most likely will not receive federal funds, Huber said.
In that case, Akers said, “I think the stimulus money would be better used for other projects that would benefit more people.”
If the county has to spend money on plans to get a project ready for stimulus money, he indicated he would rather see an investment in design plans for a new sheriff’s department building, which has been placed on hold for years.
Akers acknowledged he is a former employee of the sheriff’s office.
Robinson District Supervisor Charles Bopp said it would “certainly send the wrong message right now” to approve spending money for design plans that could “be better used for something else.”
Supervisor Chairman Joe Sheffey said it appears the chances of getting stimulus funds are slim if a project isn’t “ready to go.”
He noted a lot of Pulaski County residents are paying the City of Radford to use its indoor facilities. Given the wide range of ages he sees using Randolph Park in the summer, he said he believes “if we have an opportunity to get some federal money coming in, we should have (a project) ready” to use it.
Sheffey said he “can’t disagree that the sheriff’s department needs a new building.”
Akers said he has thought “long and hard” about the recreation center issue and he hopes that in a couple of years the economy will have improved so it can progress.
However, he noted that the crowd attending the public hearing Monday night was the largest yet. “I think we have some people who are going to be facing some hard times. I can’t in good conscience spend (the money for the study and plans) when we don’t know if we’re even going to get the stimulus money.
“When it comes down to the nuts and bolts, we have to do what it takes to protect our people … A recreation center could be a big plus for Pulaski County (in the future) — but it could be a big black eye today.”
He pointed out that the county has a YMCA that is “practically begging for members.”
Draper District Supervisor Dean Pratt agreed. He said he would “personally like to have” an indoor recreation center in the county, “but I don’t think the Pulaski County (taxpayers) should have to pay for it.”
He suggested a committee be formed to raise money for the center and then let the people who use it pay for it. “Especially right now, I don’t think the county can afford it.”
Frank Conner, who represents the Massie District, said he too would like to see the center built, “but it’s a bad time to look at something like this now.”
Akers made a motion to not fund the study and plans.
Bopp seconded the motion, which passed 4-1.
Before casting his vote, Sheffey said, “part of me says yes and part of me says no.” He ultimately voted against the motion, meaning he was in favor of proceeding with the concept study and design plans.

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