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Recreation district is likely last effort to save the Blackfoot pool

East Idaho Elects

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Blackfoot pool | EastIdahoNews.com file photo

BLACKFOOT — The proposal of a new taxing district is a last-ditch effort to save the Blackfoot pool.

After the bond election for the Blackfoot pool, which is in sore need of repair, failed for the third time in November 2018, a group trying to save the pool decided to try one more thing.

They are trying to form the Bingham County Recreational District. Those within the district that encompasses Blackfoot, Snake River and Firth school districts can vote to create the new taxing district in the Nov. 5 election.

The taxing district will add a permanent .04 percent levy to the property taxes of those within the district. That comes out to $40 per year for properties valued at $100,000.

“We just want to give the constituency, those within the recreation district, the opportunity to vote yea or nay on the recreation which will subsequently revitalize the pool,” said Mike Virtue, a former Blackfoot mayor and one of the people leading the effort to create the recreation district.

“It is a levying district like a school district or a mosquito abatement district,” Virtue said. “When it passes, then the county commissioners select a board initially and that board has the responsibility for the funds that are generated. We won’t receive any funds until January of 2021. … That board will make the decision about the expenditure of the funds.”

He said the funds will be used to redo the inside of the dome. They will pay for fixing all of the electrical and mechanical issues the pool has, including the boilers.

“It gets the pool in a position where it’s functioning efficiently and effectively,” Virtue said.

He said that once the pool is taken care of and is mostly self-sufficient, the recreation district board can choose to direct levied funds to other recreational projects.

Virtue said if the voters decide against the recreation district, it’s likely that’s the end for the Blackfoot pool. Although the previous bonds needed a supermajority (66.7 percent) to pass, this effort needs a simple majority.

RELATED | What’s next for the Blackfoot pool facility?

“The tunnel gets awfully dark. The city has to approve a bond. I don’t see that in the cards. I suppose you could take another run at a recreation district, but once you’ve ridden that horse a couple of times they’re going to put it in the barn. It’s going to be difficult,” Virtue said. “But we’re not pursuing failure of the proposal. We’re pursuing success.”

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