Hickman residents divided on aquatic center before election day

Hickman

HICKMAN, Neb. (KLKN) –There’s a topic on this years ballot that has the town of Hickman divided.

“I think it’s the number one priority for the citizens,” Jenn Burruss said.

“It’s been a touchy subject, that’s for sure,” Chadd Bice said.

No, it’s not the presidential race. Rather, a proposal for an aquatic center.

“The Hickman Community Foundation has been raising funds for a pool for almost 20 years here in the community,” Silas Clarke, the City Administrator, said.

After years of working to get it on the ballot, voters are finally seeing the proposal.

The kicker? Two propositions have to be passed for the center to be approved.

“The question of issuing the bond is a single question and then the second question is does the community want to also increase the sales tax to help pay for that so its not fully backed on property tax?” Clarke said.

The total project will cost 5.9 million dollars. One million of that will come from fundraising, the other 4.9 will have to come from a .5 percent raise in sales tax for residents.

Some say the financial plunge isn’t worth it..

“There are so many other things in this city that they need. We need a better water system, the electricity goes out all the time. There’s just a lot infrastructure things that they could approve on in this town rather than spend money on an aquatic center,” Bice, an opponent of the center, said.

While others see a value in the investment.

“It’s somewhere to have within our community and not have to spend our money else where and putting that money back into the community,” Burruss, a proponent of the center, said.

If the proposal is passed, building would begin as early as 2022 on property the city already owns. If it doesn’t go through the Community Foundation is likely to try again in the years to come but one thing is certain, it’s likely to be a tight race.

“There’s a lot of debate on this pool project. The finance of it, hows bonds work, the sales tax generated off of it. So, I don’t know where it will be come [Tuesday], I think it will be a fairly close vote,” Clarke said.

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