Craig Voters deserve a chance to hear the facts and make an educated decision, Craig City Councilor Gene Bilodeau said.
By that virtue, the council voted Tuesday to approve $20,000 in supplemental funding to contract a series of community recreation center studies.
The measure passed, 6 to 1, with Councilor Joe Herod casting the opposing vote.
Herod said he made his decision because he thought the money being used for recreation center studies should be used to repair problems at the City Park wave pool.
The council plans to pass a final resolution - making its decision official - at its next meeting May 26.
City officials will contract with Sink Combs Dethlefs, of Denver, which will, among other duties, coordinate community meetings and assess feedback on wants and needs regarding a recreation center.
The Denver firm also will prepare preliminary site plans, a site layout, prepare a business model for construction, operations and maintenance and assemble a financial team to calculate taxpayer costs.
"I was very surprised (the recreation center proposal) didn't pass" in 2003, Bilodeau said, who added he publicly supported the 2003 tax proposal. "I think we actually owe the voters another chance. I think some other issues came on that we absolutely had no control over."
City Manager Jim Ferree agreed with at least the end of Bilodeau's statement. He told the council that in 2003 the county was in financial trouble and other parts of the community seemed to face economic strains and uncertain futures.
City residents voted down a recreation center proposal in 2003, when the project included sales and use taxes to finance an approximate $12 million project.
However, differences between 2003 and now did not convince the council that a new tax proposal was justified.
"There's a little bit of apprehension to fund something the voters said no on," Councilor Bill Johnston said. "I personally need to have a feeling that something is going to be different."
Dave Pike, city Parks and Recreation Department director, said one other incentive would be the city's citizen survey, mailed to residents in December. In that survey, 63 percent of respondents indicated they would support tax increases to fund a community recreation center.
Johnston remarked that Pike had received the same backing in a different survey just before the 2003 election.
However, Pike said, the city's most recent survey was scientifically based and statistically responsible, keeping track of respondents' age and weighting responses to match Craig demographics. By comparison, the 2003 study was a random sampling.
Pike added he hopes recreation center supporters will do a better job of educating the public about benefits and costs than they did in 2003.
Councilors Johnston and Byron Willems said their experience with trying to educate voters to pass increased property taxes for the Craig Rural Fire Protection District proved that the more education voters have, the more likely they will see valid reasons behind an initiative.
Johnston is the Craig Fire/Rescue chief and Willems serves on the Fire Protection District board.
Pike said he aims to do more research this time around and possibly create a city parks and recreation plan, which would coordinate a recreation center with the pools at City Park and other city features.
Then, he said he would be able to answer the questions that residents likely will have.
"And if those reasons aren't good enough," Pike said, "there is no reason for us to move forward."