The City of Southlake will have an item on the ballot that asks voters if they’re willing to spend a portion of the city’s sales tax for construction and operational costs of the soon-to-open recreational center The Marq.
The city has a 2-cent municipal sales tax with 1 cent going to the general fund and the other cent split between the Southlake Parks Development Corp. and the Crime Control Prevention District. The ballot item asks voters if they would like to divide the crime control portion so that three-eighths of the cent will go toward an Economic Development Corp., focused on The Marq, and one-eighth if a cent to remain for crime control and safety efforts.
The Marq’s first phase, which includes meeting space, a new senior activities center and and outdoor amphitheater, is under construction and scheduled to open this fall. The second phase would include more fitness-focused amenities including an indoor aquatics center, basketball gym, yoga rooms, indoor jogging track, indoor playground, workout facility, party rooms, early learning classrooms and multipurpose classrooms.
The $15 million construction cost for the first phase was paid for by the city with available cash. Phase two construction will cost an estimated $32 million.
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City staff emphasized there will be no increased property or sales tax. Assistant City Manager Ben Thatcher said about 75 percent of the city’s sales tax comes from shoppers who don’t live in the city.
The center, with both phases complete, will cost about $3.16 million in operations, city staff estimates. The estimated revenue from membership fees and rental uses is $2.956 million. The city would use the sales tax to help offset the costs.
Thatcher said the Crime Control Prevention District was created to build facilities including the new Department of Public Safety North campus. If the sales tax measure passes, the remaining money in Crime Control would go toward having a school resource officer in every Carroll ISD campus.
“We’re comfortable that one-eighth is more than enough,” he said.
Thatcher said the city benchmarked other municipalities and their recreation centers. He said the revenue ranges from 50 percent of operational costs, to some that claim to meet 100 percent.
If the Economic Development Corp. is created, city staff plans to break ground on phase two in September 2016 and have its grand opening in January 2018.
If residents vote no, the city will reconsider other options for phase two.
The City of Grapevine plans to open its recreational center, The REC, later this year. Chris Smith, Parks and Recreation deputy director, said The Rec should recover about 80 percent of its operational costs in membership and other fees. The rest would be subsidized by monies from the general fund.
Smith said a consultant showed membership fee rates that could give Grapevine’s center a 100-percent cost recovery, but Council opted not to adopt it.
“Council said we're not interested in being a 100-percent cost recovery,” Smith said. “We’re interested in it being a benefit to the residents.”
In Grapevine, a resident family’s annual membership fee will be $300.
Dustin L. Dangli, 817-390-7770
What voters will see on the ballot
The decrease of the one-half percent (1/2%) Crime Control and Prevention District sales and use tax to one-eighth percent (1/8%) and the adoption of a sales and use tax for the promotion and development of new and expanded business enterprises at the rate of three-eighths percent (3/8%) to be used for projects authorized by Chapters 504 and 505 of the Texas Local Government Code, including specifically a community entertainment and recreational center and land, buildings, equipment, facilities, or improvements that provide new or expanded business enterprises that create or retain primary jobs as authorized by Section 505.155 of the Texas Local Government Code, including maintenance and operation costs of an authorized project.