Friday, October 5, 2012

Limited, Not by Our Abilities, But by Our Vision

"The only way you can predict the future is to build it." -Alan Kay

I am a pretty fortunate guy. I have the opportunity to work with quite a few young people in our community in various programs. As I do so, I can’t help but wonder, what reasons do we give them to stay in the Chamberlain-Oacoma area after they complete their education here. What will keep them from moving to Mitchell, Sioux Falls or Rapid City? What will entice them to come home to raise their family in the community where they grew up.

The Chamberlain Area Event and Fine Arts Center is a reason. It is a very strong statement that we believe in ourselves, our community and, most importantly our future and our youth.

Currently, the Chamberlain National Guard Armory hosts most school or communities' events of any size. It is a sixty year old facility that, when built, was a state-of-the-art facility. It has received some upgrades over the years but, in the near future, many more upgrades are going to be needed to allow us to use that facility for all the functions it is being used for today. Uncomfortable temperatures, inadequate parking and treacherous sidewalks prevent people from attending events at the armory throughout the year. As a community, we deserve so much more than what the Armory can now offer.

We currently have a window of opportunity that is unprecedented. Interest rates are at historically low levels - the lowest in my lifetime. Given these current interest rates and price of materials for construction, this is the lowest price tag we’ll be looking at for this project. Waiting five or 10 years could increase the cost of the project astronomically.

Chamberlain-Oacoma is where east meets west in South Dakota. This facility allows us to capitalize on the unique geographical advantage our communities enjoy. There is no facility like it in our area. This event center could become home to trade shows, outdoor shows, community plays, traveling concert or speakers series and much more. Even traditionally outdoor events could find a home indoors!

This is a $13.18 million project. The Chamberlain School District support includes $1 million savings, $4 million in capital outlay certificates and $550,000 federal impact aid funds. The Barger Foundation has committed $1.35 million over 10 years. The proposed bond redemption is $5.28 million. One million dollars will be raised from private entities. The City of Chamberlain and the City of Oacoma may also participate financially. The private funding will not target local businesses who will support the project through their support of the bond redemption.

The the 90 cent levy for the new high school will be paid off on November first of this year (one week before the election). The 2012 taxes (payable in April and October of 2013) will reflect the 90 cent levy reduction. If the bond passes, an 88 cent levy will be reflected on the 2013 tax liability (payable in April and October of 2014 and ongoing).

It is important to note that the current levy will not be in addition to an existing one, but rather will replace it at a lower value. There is not a question of whether or not our taxpayers can afford this because they have for the past twenty years. This levy only impacts private, commercial and agricultural property owners.

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Another important note is that the levy most probably will decrease. As the bond terms get shorter, the district can refinance at lower rates. As our tax base continues to grow, the tax liability is spread out over that larger base, reducing the tax liability on everyone.

The attached image shows how the levy affects individual property owners or you can use this tax calculator. For just pennies a day, our community can take control of its future.

Everyone knows that working together, we get more done. Sometimes it is difficult to put personal interests or biases aside, but as Helen Keller said, "Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much."

This issue requires a 60% majority plus one vote to pass. If you support this project, it is not enough to just vote "Yes". You need to get involved and become an advocate. You need to talk to your circle of influence, your network and let them know what's at stake. You must explain that their taxes are not going to go up and that this is a bargain in this interest rate environment.

The Chamberlain Area Event and Fine Arts Center is opportunity for our community to seize control of our future. It is a state-of-the-art facility that will serve our communities' needs for fifty plus years. I urge you to vote yes on election day!

Update: Here is KDLT's October 19 story on the Event Center.

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