‘Not the right time’ | CraigDailyPress.com

‘Not the right time’

Rec center group to discuss delaying tax campaign

Collin Smith

Tony St. John knows first-hand that problems on Wall Street easily find their way into the pocketbooks of people across the country.

For that reason, he thinks the Community Recreation Center Steering Committee – which he is a part of – should slow down its campaign for a tax-funded rec center in Craig.

The latest plans would have residents vote on a 1-cent sales tax increase on all goods purchased. If approved, residents would pay an extra penny for every dollar they spend.

“All I’m saying is a lot of us lost a lot of money these last three weeks in our 401(k)s and profit-sharing and all that,” St. John said. “I wouldn’t want someone to come to me and say, ‘We’re gonna spend so many millions of dollars on a rec center,’ and here I am, and I just lost a whole bunch of money.”

St. John is not alone in his concern – other members of the steering committee and the city Parks and Recreation Department agree.

Erin Miller, who sits on the steering committee and the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, likewise thinks now is the wrong time to ask local residents to approve a tax increase.

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“I don’t think we should proceed at this time,” she said. “It’s something I believe in and think we should pursue at a later time, but now is not the right time.”

St. John also is not willing to give up on plans for a future rec center.

“The city of Craig desperately needs a community recreation center, and it’s going to come together at some point,” he said. “We’re just concerned about what’s going on with the stock market and the economy, and my opinion is, it’s not the right time to ask the citizens for money until we stabilize the economy.”

The steering committee plans to meet at 7 p.m. Oct. 29 at City Hall to discuss the issue at length and put together a plan to move forward.

Professional campaign consultants and architects from Denver-based Sink Combs Dethlefs will not be there, although they initially expected to appear.

Dave Pike, Parks and Recreation Department director, took the initiative to ask them not to come after meeting with the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board.

Pike and the Advisory Board feel it would be a good decision to slow the campaign.

“We don’t want the community to think we’re jamming this down their throats,” he said.

Regardless of the timing decision, Pike said the committee likely will go forward with a public and private gift-giving campaign to see if local business and/or government would donate to building a recreation center.

The gift-giving idea first was brought up by Lynne Herring, a local resident who appeared at the steering committee’s September meeting, though she is not part of the group.

She asked the committee to consider people’s personal finances before asking them to raise taxes on themselves.

Collin Smith can be reached at 875-1794 or cesmith@craigdailypress.com

If you go

What: Community Recreation Center Steering Committee meeting

When: 7 p.m. Oct. 29

Where: Craig City Hall

The group will plan whether to slow down its campaign because of struggling national economic. The meeting is open to the public.