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City, schools touch bases about rec

Staff writer

City administrator Roger Holter and Mayor Todd Heitschmidt presented the city’s tentative recreation plan to USD 408 at its Monday night board meeting.

Holter first went through the presentation with city council members at their meeting then headed to district offices with Heitschmidt to address the board of education.

“There’s no pride of authorship here,” Holter said in the council meeting. “Whatever organization can best serve our citizens, that’s what we want to do.”

The plan Holter and Heitschmidt presented was the same one approved by the city council last month. It would create a city parks and recreation department with two full-time employees and a nine-member board.

School board members didn’t ask many questions throughout the presentation and didn’t discuss an alternative plan that would put the district in charge of community recreation.

“I thought maybe there’d be more discussion on it,” Superintendent Lee Leiker said Tuesday. “It never was talked about even as far as departmental reports. No one said anything. I’m going to continue to visit with Roger and Todd, and we’ll see what works best at this point.”

Leiker said he would discuss the issue with the board June 29.

Regardless whether the school drafts a plan, the city will continue moving forward with its proposal.

“We’re going to be preparing parallel plans to a point where a decision can be made for one organization to run it,” Heitschmidt said. “We have to keep moving to have a plan to put in place Jan. 1.”

Holter has said that while the city views parks and recreation as an avenue for economic development, it understands going through the school has advantages.

The school has a larger tax base, including the county lake and Florence. While a tax levy of a single mill from the city would net less than $10,000, a single mill levy for the school would net $29,000.

Leiker said the overall goal is to improve.

“We want a better rec program out of it,” he said, “not that it was bad, but it’s a chance to make it better.”

Last modified June 18, 2015

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