Clark County commissioners voted to transfer more than $686,000 toward the downtown ice rink after holding onto the money for about a decade.
The payment is the last of $5 million the county generated between 2001 and 2002 when commissioners increased the local sales tax by a half-percent to raise money for National Trail Parks and Recreation District projects, which included the ice rink.
“Most of the money was dispersed 10 years ago … This was supposed to have been done probably six, seven, eight years ago. And for whatever reason, it didn’ … and they finally got the plans together, broke ground and we’re following through with our commitment,” County Administrator Nathan Kennedy said.
All interest earned on the money went to the county general fund, including an estimated $34,000 earned on the last payment, Kennedy said.
The ice rink is the last phase of the park district’s 10-year, $17 million capital campaign that also included the Carleton Davidson Stadium and the Splash Zone Family Aquatic Center
The campaign was paid for through a combination of private donations and public dollars, including a one-year, half-percent sales tax approved by county commissioners in 2001.
Commissioner John Detrick and former Clark County Commissioners James Sheehan and Roger Tackett approved the temporary tax in support of the projects.
“It was a part of an overall commitment. It was a three-project commitment, and it’s for all the citizens of Clark County as is the Davidson ball field and the Splash Zone,” Detrick said.
The project is expected to cost about $7.25 million.
National Trail Chief Executive Officer Leann Castillo said the ice rink and the other NTPRD projects could not come to fruition without the help of the county’s half-percent sales tax.
“Without that sales tax in 2001, we wouldn’t be able to do all of these projects,” Castillo said.
Construction on the ice rink began earlier this month on West Main Street near Lowry Avenue after being delayed multiple times in the decade.
Officials said lengthy delays were due in part to changes in the location of the ice rink, design plans and issues related to the bidding process for the project.
Castillo said the project appears to be on track to open this year.
“I’m very excited to have this project up and going. We expect to have the ice skating rink open by the end of this year,” Castillo said.
In addition to providing funding for the ice rink, Clark County officials also regularly allocate money to NTPRD, although funding levels have dropped since 2004.
In 2004, NTPRD received $329,700 from the county compared to $38,000 last year. City commissioners allocated about $1.1 million annually.
Asked if NTPRD would want interest the county earned while holding onto funds for the organization’s projects, Castillo said that commissioners must follow state law, but that the additional money “would be very generous.”