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home : news : local   May 29, 2016

10/8/2013 5:40:00 AM
Peru voters to be polled about tax funding for new pool

Jeff Dankert
NewsTribune Reporter

In March voters who visit polls in Peru will be asked if they would support funding a new outdoors swimming pool with a property tax.
Peru City Council voted 5-2 Monday to place the question on the ballot for the March 18 state General Primary Election. The vote will be an advisory referendum only and will not decide if a pool will be built and will not determine a source of funding.
Aldermen Mike Radtke and Becky Mueller voted “nay” on going to the ballot. Alderman Rodney Perez, who argued to table the issue, joined aldermen Tony Ferrari, Dave Waldorf, Dave Potthoff and Jim Lukosus in voting for the ballot question. Alderman Mike Sapienza was absent.
The ballot vote will set a benchmark for residents’ support/non-support for property tax funding of a pool. Many Peru officials and townspeople have said they believe residents will vote against the idea.
Members of Friends for Peru Pool, who have lobbied for a new pool and raised more than $100,000, believe the city won’t help them and are against the ballot question.
“I don’t think that the referendum itself has anything to do with the committee or their work toward a splash pad,” Potthoff said.
The Friends group announced it wants to begin with a splash pad costing about $100,000 and $300 a month for water. Perez wanted to table the council’s vote Monday until the Friends group could show the council its splash pad idea.
Splash pads are like jungle gyms with spraying water but too shallow for swimming. The committee considers it a first phase until a swimming pool can be funded.
After he voted for the advisory question, Perez said supports hearing what voters have to say. Perez said that, after the ballot vote in March, it is his opinion that the council will not seek for and approve property tax funding for a new pool. He got no argument from his fellow aldermen on that; no one on the council has voiced support for funding a pool with property taxes.
Mayor Scott Harl, who began calling for a ballot question this summer to gauge public opinion, said: “You’ll find out March 18.”
In January 2010 a city survey of 687 residents showed 46 percent wanted a new pool, 30 percent said it should be repaired and 24 percent had no opinion. That spring the city closed the pool because of water leaks and unfavorable reports from insurance and legal advisers. In August 2010 the council voted 5-2 against a motion by two aldermen to place a question on the ballot asking voters about building a new pool.
Since the pool closed the Friends group formed to raise money. In February the city demolished the 86-year-old pool and pool house in Washington Park.
Rose (Tobler) Sparks, a retired pharmacist living in Capistrano Beach, Calif. who donated $2,000 to the pool fund in 2010, went to the podium. She described the former outdoors pool as “the heart and soul of this town” and “the jewel of our park system” but added that “of course, your roads and sewers all have to be taken care of.”

Jeff Dankert can be reached at (815) 220-6977 or

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