City projects plan still in search of 4 votes

Supporters of several capital projects and a city sales-tax hike to pay for them sought to change two supervisors’ votes going into Thursday’s Board of Supervisors meeting.

About a dozen residents, most backing downtown revitalization and a new animal shelter, met Tuesday afternoon with Supervisor Jim Shirk and heard him say he has difficulty with the proposal as it will come to the board Thursday. A similar group met with Supervisor John McKenna on Monday afternoon. McKenna has said he thinks the idea should go to a vote of the people.

The proposal at this point seeks money for a multi-purpose athletic center (MAC), the animal shelter and city-scape revitalization of downtown, East William Street and the North and South Carson Street business corridors. The improvements would be done with a city sales-tax boost of one-eighth of a penny to underpin $15 million in bonds. McKenna and Shirk weren’t for the idea as presented in November.

Shirk said he wants a sunset clause so the proposal won’t be open-ended.

“It leaves open the door,” he said. “There’s no end in sight.” But that wasn’t his only objection. He said the MAC and animal shelter shouldn’t be included, though he felt shelter funds could be gleaned elsewhere in next year’s budgeting process by seeking unexpended funds in the budget at the end of the fiscal year. He also said corridors outside downtown weren’t well-represented at meetings on plans for those corridors.

He termed it an “unwise decision” to meld all the business corridors together in an all-or-nothing package.

Dana Lee Fruend, president of Downtown 20/20, and others asked that Shirk either try to amend the proposal to get his sunset provision and other details he wants or seek to table the measure rather than let it die. Fruend and colleagues said they weren’t about to quit, but made it clear as well that they don’t relish the idea of starting over or doing things on a piecemeal basis.

“I don’t want a Band-Aid,” said Fruend. And she resisted what she feared might pit the various groups backing the plan against each other. “I still want it all.”


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