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The New Albany Board of Aldermen has taken bids for site preparation for the expansion of the Sportsplex to the north side of U.S. Highway 78.
The bids range from $403,417 to $666,814, and Mendrop-Wages, the engineering firm handling the project, is analyzing the bids and expects to have a recommendation for the board, perhaps as soon as its next meeting Monday.
We think that before any bid is accepted, the board should have a public airing of what the anticipated total cost of the Sportsplex expansion will be, what the anticipated annual operating costs will be, and how the city will pay for it.
Let us state again that we support the Sportsplex expansion and we think the community generally does, too. But we think it is important to have a clear understanding of the costs involved and the tax revenue that will be needed to finance it.
Supporters have suggested that some tourism tax money be used and that there may be grants available. Supporters have a private fundraising campaign in the works. They also have said the New Albany schools would be asked to contribute.
Whether grant money will be forthcoming is very uncertain and it is our experience that private fundraising is very difficult for any project, and will not generate a major part of the cost.
And the schools face a financial crisis that almost certainly will result in the elimination of teaching positions in New Albany next year. We oppose, and we think the community will oppose, spending school money on the Sportsplex at this time.
The Board of Aldermen should put forth a straightforward plan for financing this project through a combination of the tourism tax and a small millage increase, if necessary.
If private fundraising and grants reduce the cost, fine. But depending on either for a significant part of the cost is unrealistic.