County to donate $15,000 for auditoriumWashington High School Auditorium donation passes with 3 to 2 vote
The Washington High School auditorium project will receive a $15,000 donation over three years from Washington County. The board of supervisors adopted a resolution to support the project on a 3-to-2 roll call vote, this morning during the weekly supervisors’ meeting.
The supervisors voting yes were Stan Stoops, Steve Davis and Richard Young. The no votes came from Jack Seward Jr. and Bob Yoder.
Supporters of the auditorium project were in the audience, including co-chairs Jan Gallagher and Bob Youngquist. Ed Raber was present to talk about the mechanics of applying for a Vision Iowa grant.
Stoops said that he had questions to ask about the project from some of his constituents.
The first question dealt with which schools in the county would be able to use the auditorium without charge.
Gallagher said that would have to be worked out. She said the district already has rental agreements for the use of the district’s facilities in place.
Stoops than asked about the impact of the school auditorium on the Washington Community Theater auditorium.
Raber said that among the reasons for the project is that the new auditorium would be more handicapped accessible. He also said there is enough demand for auditorium space to keep both auditoriums busy.
Gallagher said the new auditorium would seat 700 people. The number of high school students is expected to be nearly 600, so a 600-seat auditorium would not accommodate the student body and school staff. The Washington Community Theater has 500 seats.
Stoops than asked about the timing of the Vision Iowa grant.
Raber said that he began thinking the auditorium might be eligible for a Vision Iowa grant in September. The grant application is due in January.
Seward said he was aware of the Vision Iowa grant in November.
Stoops next conveyed the point of view of some constituents that “there is no free money; just taxpayers.”
Referring to an e-mail from Mid-Prairie Superintendent Mark Schneider, Stoops said that Mid-Prairie is not opposed to the request for funds.
Raber then talked about student enrollment numbers and where enrollment may be headed. He said the three largest school districts in the area — Highland, Mid-Prairie and Washington — are trending slightly upward.
Yoder said that the $4.5 million the committee has raised is a “fair amount of money” for an auditorium. He wanted to know where the $7 million price tag came from.
Gallagher said the committee has been working with an architect and a project manager and the $7 million is a solid figure. She also said that donors provided the funding to pay for the architect and project manager.
While Davis, Stoops and Young said that the majority of people who contacted them support the donation, Seward said that the opinions he’s received are the “direct opposite.” He said he does represent the entire county. He said that he doesn’t think it is proper to spend county taxes on the project. He said that private donors volunteer to give their money to the projects. Taxpayers would not have a choice.
Yoder said that his constituents in District 2 do not support the donation. The project does not benefit the county, he said.
Young made the motion to adopt the resolution. Stoops provided the second.
Davis said the next supervisors’ meeting will be held at 9:30 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 2.