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R-3 board passes tax increase;
discusses center

by Shana Haines
Landmark reporter

It was a meeting to set the tax rate for Platte County R-3 schools, but board of education members also discussed the ever-controversial community center proposal during a special meeting Thursday.

After a brief discussion, the board approved a tax levy of $4.11 of per $100 assessed valuation. That rate is up from last year's mark of $4.09.

"I feel confident in our budget. There is still the unknown. I am skeptical with what we will end up with," Dr. Mark Harpst, Platte County R-3 superintendent, said.

Following the passing of the tax rate, board members continued discussions on the proposed project with Platte County Commissioners concerning a community center.

Harpst informed the board he had left messages with Steve Wegner, 2nd District Commissioner, to attend the Sept. 17 board of education meeting to allow both parties discussion of the issue. Harpst also told board members he had written a letter inviting the commissioners. At the time of the meeting no response was made by commissioners.

"Here is a concept. Offer, counter- offer, offer. Talk to us. If they would respond in some way, it would let us know where they stand," board member Dick Modin said.

During the meeting, Harpst told the board he had spent time generating several ideas for the proposed project to present to commissioners in hope the two parties could reach an agreement.

Harpst asked the board members if they wanted to discuss his ideas during the meeting and they declined. Board members urged Harpst to continue negotiations with the commissioners.

When asked by The Landmark if he wanted to comment on his ideas, Harpst declined.

An 8-lane swimming pool has been the heart of the controversial issue. Board members said they would agree to the partnership only if the center contained an 8-lane competitive indoor cold-water pool, a fitness center, an indoor walking/running track, a regulation sized practice gym and six outdoor tennis courts.

If agreed upon, the center would be constructed near the Northland Career Center on the school's main campus along Hwy. 92 in Platte City.

County officials have announced they will pursue other land options if necessary. The county has offered $6 million to the joint project, with that money coming from the county's half cent sales tax for parks. Commissioners are concerned the facility R-3 has in mind would be too costly.

The county recently secured an option to purchase a tract of land in Platte City that could potentially serve as a site for a center. That piece of land is off Running Horse Road in Platte City near the Oak Creek subdivision.