Litchfield School District voters on Tuesday rejected for a second time a question that would have provided funding for a swimming pool and other facility improvements.
The referendum seeking voter approval for $13.99 million in bonding failed 1,301 to 1,035, according to a preliminary tally provided by the Meeker County Auditor’s Office.
Litchfield Public Schools sought the bonding to build a new swimming pool and make other improvements that would be part of the proposed Litchfield Area Recreation Center, or LARC, a collaborative project between the school district and city of Litchfield.
LARC plans call for construction of a four-station field house with elevated walking track, an eight-lane pool, administrative and meeting space, locker rooms and fitness room. The city will fund the field house, along with sharing cost of administrative and meeting space, while the school district was to fund construction of the new pool.
City voters approved a local sales tax in November that, along with $5 million in state funding, will be used to fund the “city” portion of the project. However, school district voters rejected a proposed $13.5 million bond in the same election.
School officials reviewed the project and came back with the $13.99 million bond proposal, which in addition to the swimming pool would have covered the cost of eight new tennis courts, two new baseball/softball fields and new lockerrooms. The nearly $500,000 increase in bond request was due primarily to rising costs, officials said.
The gap between “yes” and “no” votes actually grew Tuesday, as the measure failed by 266 votes, with 2,336 (32.7%) of the district’s eligible voters casting a ballot. During the Nov. 8 general election, with nearly 5,000 votes cast, the bond question failed by 174 votes.
The results of Tuesday’s voting won’t be official until the Litchfield School Board canvasses the results during its meeting Monday.