It may still be 2011, but issues for next year’s elections already are being prepared for 2012 ballots.


It may still be 2011, but issues for next year’s elections already are being prepared for 2012 ballots.
On Aug. 7, 2012, McPherson voters will have to decide whether or not they want to extend the existing half-cent sales tax that has financed the renovation of the city’s Opera House. City commissioners unanimously approved an item during their Monday meeting to begin work on the primary ballot initiative for next year.
If approved, the measure will renew the existing tax for another 10 years, providing an estimated $12 million for improvements to streets and structures throughout the city. Commissioners already have projects in mind that the proceeds of the tax could be used for.
Among other things, Mayor Tom Brown said the tax could be used to convert the Community Building, which is an unsuitable venue for many city events, into a multi-purpose structure that could house smaller activities. Preliminary allocations of funds would see $3 million used on capital improvements in McPherson, including alterations to the Community Building.
The largest chunk of money would be dedicated to road improvements, including a complete reconstruction of First Street from McPherson Hospital to Cedars Drive and Hartup Street from First Street to the railroad tracks. $7.5 million would go toward the First and Hartup Street reconstructions and to similar projects in town.
A final $1.5 million would be used to improve drainage along Northview Street, including the installation of new sidewalk.
Commissioners said the issue is one considering the extension of current tax levels, not the implementation of new taxes.
“This is not an added tax,” Commissioner Michael Alkire said at Monday’s meeting, “just a continuation of what’s already there.”
Monday’s vote allows Brown to work with City Attorney Jeff Houston in drafting the primary ballot initiative for voters next August. The mayor said having the vote before Election Day would encourage residents to consider the tax extension independent of November’s candidates and their platforms. He also said he did not think having the election on a different day than the general election would result in lower voter turnout.