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Jackson voters to decide on $20 million indoor pool facility this November

With absentee ballots in North Carolina being submitted to the Jackson County Board of Elections office in droves – the Sylva Town Board of Commissioners heard an update on the bond referendum for a new indoor pool facility that is appearing on this year’s ballot.

Sloan Despeaux, who works at WCU and teaches aquatics classes, presented to the Sylva Town Board during their meeting Thursday morning

The Jackson County Board of Commissioners is looking to spend $20 million for a new indoor pool complex at the Cullowhee Recreation Center. Despeaux presented design renderings to the Sylva Town Board which includes architectural plans for the 31,000-square-foot addition to the existing recreation center. One pool would feature a six-lane competition pool and the other pool would serve as a leisure pool with a splash pad. The facility would also house locker rooms, a competition seating deck, party room spaces, offices and other support spaces.

With the high price tag, commissioners voted earlier this year to leave the decision up to voters by placing a question on the November ballot. The question, which is the only thing aside from voting for various political offices on the ballot reads,

“Shall the order authorizing Jackson County general obligation bonds in the maximum amount of $20,000 plus interest to pay capital costs of providing indoor pool facilities and paying related costs, and providing the additional taxes may be levied in an amount sufficient to pay the principal of and interest on the bonds, as adopted by the County’s Board of Commissioners on July 10, 2020, be approved?”

While the bond referendum language may be confusing – if you support the pool, vote Yes, if you do not support he pool, vote no.

Despeaux noted that while the $20 million price tag may be off-putting for some when it is broken down per individual, residents are looking at paying around $34 a year extra in taxes on a home valued at $150,000 to make the pool possible. It ends up being around .023 per $100 in property tax value.

“That $34 a year is less than what you would spend driving in gas over to Waynesville a couple of times a year to use their pool,” Despeaux said.

Despeaux also noted that Jackson County is losing out on additional revenue as residents drive to Haywood County to use their facility, they spend money in Haywood County that they could be spending in Jackson County.

Jackson County is already invested in the project, as it have spent around $48,000 in design fees, geotechnical and legal work surrounding the effort and expects to spend between $5,000 and $10,000 on marketing materials to educate voters about the referendum question.

The results of the bond referendum will be final at the conclusion of the November 3 General Election.

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