MADRAS, OR -- Jefferson County voters are again faced with an operating levy for the Madras Aquatic Center (MAC). Executive Director Joe McHaney says approval of the November ballot measure would maintain the status quo. "This is a renewal levy; we’re not asking for any more funds. It’s 40-cents per every $1,000 of assessed for property values. What we’re really trying to do is just build upon what we’ve done over the last five years and just really kind of keep things going and also slowly expand as we can."
The original levy was narrowly approved in 2013
and is set to expire next year. McHaney acknowledges that renewing it won’t be easy. "First off, it was highly, highly contested in building an aquatic center in our community, to begin with. Folks are hesitant to pay for these types of services; obviously it’s not free servicing. So, there are those who just do not want to see taxes increase; and, of course, we’re not increasing here. We’re just renewing. And, there are some folks that just feel an aquatic center is too expensive for our community."
McHaney tells KBND News the MAC is growing all programs, and provides important community opportunities. "Certainly, the foundation of our organization is the Madras Aquatic Center. It’s one of the nicest facilities in Jefferson County, as many folks know; we have a lot of visitors from Deschutes County. But, not everybody is a pool user. And, the idea is to continue to grow into a full-blown Parks and Rec Division, down the road. We’re a ways off from that. But, with that said, what we’ve found is that the out-of-water recreation programs have increased significantly." He says in the past four years, annual participation grew from 350 to about 1600. If the levy is allowed to expire, McHaney says the MAC would have to drastically cut back on out-of-water programs, which now include youth and adult soccer and basketball, and potentially pool staffing.
"One of the main things that we’re trying to do is really, really embed ourselves into the communities: Madras, Warm Springs, Metolius and Culver, as well, to where we really are bringing the communities together," says McHaney. "What we’re finding is through our programming, families are coming down, grandparents are coming down. Whether it’s from a participation level or a spectator level, people are coming together and they’re getting to know their neighbor and building a tighter community."
Ballots start arriving in mailboxes this week; they're due back November seventh.