BLACKFOOT — The petition committee working to gather signatures on the issue of forming a recreation district in Bingham County to help save the Blackfoot Municipal Swimming Pool had its weekly meeting Thursday night at Dawn Enterprises as the deadline to get on the November ballot closes in.
With three weeks left before an August 1 deadline, the committee is on the cusp of having 2,000 verified signatures of registered voters who live within the Blackfoot, Snake River, and Firth school districts, which would be the area making up the proposed recreation district.
The committee has been shooting for 3,000 signatures if only to try and make up for any attrition in verified signatures. Former Blackfoot Mayor Mike Virtue, a leader on the petition committee, said 20 percent of registered voters is needed to get on the ballot, which would put the actual number of signatures needed at just over 2,800.
Once the proposal is on the ballot, it will need a simple majority, 50 percent plus one, to pass.
If the proposal passes, a recreation board would be elected by residents within the district boundaries to prioritize improvements and authorize expenditures to expedite pool reopening to meet all appropriate safety requirements, Virtue said.
The board would oversee the pool operation, decisions, and oversight of the funds invested into the pool, with revenue limitations prescribing the repair and replacement schedule, Virtue added.
The committee anticipates it taking about two years to reopen the pool once funds are in place, and the recreation district may be eligible for additional grant funds once it is reopened to assist in upgrades.
The tax levy impact would be $40 per $100,000 of appraised property value per year, or $3.34 per month. The revenue collected will be placed in an account and disbursed by the recreation board and, unlike a bond, no interest will be incurred on the district funds. Approximately $550,000 of revenue will be collected each year, Virtue said, noting that a recreation board could lower that amount in the future if there is enough money in the account to maintain the pool.
“All of us need to dig in over the next three weeks,” Virtue said. “We need to overshoot our goal. It’s been a long, hard effort and I do not want to come in in second place.”
He said the committee needs to tentatively get on the county commission’s meeting agenda by July 31 to present the signatures gathered to get on the ballot.
More volunteers would be helpful to help collect signatures, according to Diane Burt, chairman of the petition committee.
Volunteers are thinking of ways to reach their goal more quickly, including gathering signatures each Saturday at Kesler’s Market from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., going to Music In The Park each Wednesday night, setting up at the Blackfoot Movie Mill each Friday and Saturday starting at 4 p.m., and going to the pool at the Blackfoot Best Western where swimming lessons are held each Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The public is invited to go to the committee meetings each Thursday at 6 p.m. at Dawn Enterprises to sign as well.
Burt and Virtue said anyone not able to make it in to sign the petition can call Burt at (801) 580-7555 or Virtue at (208) 681-5298 and they will drive out to deliver petitions themselves.