Ballots on property tax hike to fund Shawnee community center are hitting mailboxes. Here’s what voters need to know

A rendering of the proposed community center in Shawnee. Residents will vote on whether to issue bonds to pay for the center this spring.

Ballots for the mail-in election on a proposed property tax increase to pay for a proposed community center in Shawnee are hitting mailboxes starting today.

Registered voters in Shawnee will decide if the city will issue up to $38 million in general obligation bonds — covered by a property tax increase — to pay for building and maintaining a community center at West 61st Street and Woodland Drive.

The cost for property owners

If Shawnee voters approve the ballot measure, the city will finance the costs for the community center through the issuance of bonds for a 20-year period. That means the city would pay about $2.7 million annually to cover the $38 million principal cost for construction plus interest. With interest included, the total cost for the project would be about $54 million.

If voters approve the measure, Shawnee property owners would see an increase of 2.919 mills to the city’s property tax rate. That would bring the total mill levy up to 29.536.

As a point of comparison, the current mill levy in neighboring Lenexa, which has a slightly smaller population than Shawnee but a higher total assessed property value, is 29.909.

Here’s a look at what the proposed property tax increase would mean for Shawnee home owners, based on today’s dollars. (The following chart was put together by the city of Shawnee. $263,130 is the average value of a home in Shawnee):

Membership costs, amenities of proposed community center

The property tax increase would be to fund construction of the center. To gain full access to the center’s amenities, though, residents would have to pay a membership fee.

The proposed cost for annual memberships is as follows:

  • Single adult membership (ages 16-61): $480
  • Youth membership: $360
  • Single senior membership: $420
  • Senior plus one membership: $480
  • Family memberships for families with up to five members: $840 (a fee of $120 would be charged for each member above five).

Amenities inside the facility include:

  • Multi-activity court gym
  • Indoor turf field
  • Indoor walking/running track
  • Indoor aquatics with recreational pool, lap lanes, sprayground, splash pad, hot tub, slides, climbing wall with platform diving, and party rooms
  • Fitness center with cardio and strength machines, as well as functional training machines
  • Free weights
  • Group fitness classrooms
  • Indoor playground
  • Drop-in childcare
  • Multipurpose classrooms
  • Lounge areas
  • Outdoor exercise terrace
  • Outdoor trail with fitness stations that would loop around the Shawnee Community Center and property and connect to the Clear Creek Parkway trail.

How the mail-in ballot election works

Starting today, every registered voter in Shawnee will receive a ballot in the mail. Voters are to read the ballot, mark their vote, sign the ballot, then send it back to the Election Office by May 21.

May 17 is the last day the Election Office can mail out replacement ballots for voters who misplace theirs. (The deadline to register to vote in the mail-in election was yesterday, April 30).

Here’s the language that appears on the ballot:

Shall the City of Shawnee, Kansas, issue general obligation bonds in one or more series in an amount not to exceed $38,000,000 to pay the costs of the design, construction, furnishing, equipping, operating, and financing of a new community center at West 61st Street and Woodland Drive within the City, including park amenities, site work, and indoor recreational and aquatic features, together with all related improvements, with all or a portion of the debt service on such bonds paid through an increase in the property tax levy, all pursuant to the provisions of K.S.A. 10-101 et seq., K.S.A. 12-1736 et seq., K.S.A. 25-431 et seq., Article 12, Section 5 of the Constitution of the State of Kansas, and Ordinance No. 3251 of the City?

Final ballot confirmation is May 28.

If approved, construction on the community center is slated to begin in March 2020, and the facility would be open to the public in August 2021.