Reversing an April decision, school board trustees voted Thursday to increase a recreation district mill levy paid by Teton County property owners.
The Teton County School District No. 1 Board of Trustees decided unanimously to bump the levy to 0.9 mills, up from the 0.45 they agreed to in April. Recreation district funds are doled out to numerous community organizations, as well as school district programs and the Teton County/Jackson Parks and Recreation Department.
The district was set up to capture tax money for recreation programs and facilities. The district’s five-member board includes three school board trustees and two community members appointed by the school board.
The impetus for the increase, as pitched by Trustee Bill Scarlett, who is chairman of the Recreation District Board, is the condition of some of the synthetic fields the district oversees, which are roughly a decade old, according to Activities Director Mike Hansen.
“I think the two synthetic soccer fields are spent,” Scarlett said during the meeting. “We have a $1.2 million bid to replace them.”
That discussion led to the consideration of other projects looming in the near future, including a potential irrigation well for the Colter Elementary School fields, which incur a roughly $30,000 water bill, according to Scarlett. The school bills Parks and Rec, which in turn passes the cost on to the recreation district.
The new levy, Scarlett said, would take the district’s tax revenue from around $894,000 to over $1.7 million. Another project he floated was the replacement or renovation of the football stadium’s bleachers, which he said need work before the next season.
“Those stands were brand new when [Trustee Keith Gingery] was a sophomore in high school,” he said jokingly.
With those capital projects in mind, plus the potential for building a fieldhouse, trustees supported the mill levy increase. However, Trustee Kate Mead took issue with some programs currently being funded, pointing out that some applications don’t even mention recreation.
“Some of the funding requests the recreation district has gotten are not for recreation,” she said. “We need a cultural shift to get back to rec services that can be used for all people in the county.”
In addition to several applications for projects from Parks and Rec, 21 community nonprofits applied for funds for fiscal year 2019-20, including groups ranging from Teton Literacy Center and the Art Association of Jackson Hole to Slow Food in the Tetons and Jackson Youth Hockey.