jex-03052020-nws-vote-a01

Mike Dehner casts his ballot for the March 3 special election at the Lawrence Community Center. 

Anamosa

The $2.9 million dollar bond project put before Anamosa voters was shot down during the March 3 special election.

The bond, which would have funded an expansion of the city’s fire station and renovated the Old Daly Creek Winery into the new police station, needed 60 percent support and came up well short. Only 25 percent of the 417 people who cast ballots voted in favor of the issue.

So, when the Anamosa City Council met March 9 for their next meeting, the focus turned to what to do next.

Anamosa Fire Chief Tim Shada said the expansion needed for the fire station were not wants.

“This isn’t a luxury item that the firemen want, this is something that the firemen and the town really need,” he said. “We need it to help protect the community.”

The project already had plans that were paid for and estimates from contractors, including various offers to donate labor for portions of the project, and the belief was the total cost of the project would come in below $700,000.

City Administrator Jacob Sheridan said there were a couple of different options the city could explore to finance the project.

In order to attempt to pay for the project with a general obligation bond, which Sheridan viewed as the most likely option, the city had to wait at least six months before they could try it again. As long as the estimated cost remained below $700,000, the project could be approved by the city council, unless a petition forced it to go to a vote.

The city could pay for the project out of the general fund, though Sheridan said it was not his preferred option. Sheridan was also looking into the possibility that the project could be paid out of a loan using Tax Increment Financing.

When it came to the police station, the city was looking at a more uncertain future, with differing opinions expressed over why the public got hung up on the project.

Member of the public Mike Dearborn said he felt that the public was generally supportive that something needed to be done to give the police department an updated space, but that the issue was with how the city went about things. Mayor Rod Smith said some people he talked to said they refused to vote for any measure that would raise their taxes.

Looking forward, Sheridan said he was of the opinion that it was necessary to go back to the drawing board, while Council Member Rich Crump said the city needed to look at where it came up short.

“I think we need to take a step back, reassess. It’s not going to be anything that’s going to be decided in a week, two weeks or even two months,” Crump said. “At some point, we need to really discuss all the things that went wrong, because there were multiple things that failed in this whole process.”

The city was tentatively eyeing a setting a work session after getting through the budget process.

Elsewhere, Galen Capron, currently appointed to the city council seat Rod Smith vacated when he was elected mayor, will fill out the rest of the term after easily winning the seat with 86.5 percent of the vote.

The 415 voters that turned out represented a 14.15 turnout rate. The city’s last special election, held in 2017 to fill two council seats that were vacated, turned out 367.

The results of the were made official when the county conducted the canvass of the election Tuesday, March 10.

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