Telephone town halls focus on potential Anna bond election

By Joshua Baethge
Anna-Melissa Tribune
Jim Proce

Around 200 Anna Residents participated in a Dec. 17 telephone town hall to discuss a 2021 bond proposal that the city is considering. Callers had the opportunity to ask questions and provide feedback on some of the things that are being considered.

City Manager Jim Proce led the roughly hour-long event. 

“We wanted to take the opportunity to talk about some of the things that have been going on in our city council meetings and some of the projects that are being proposed,” he said. 

He added that resident feedback would guide city officials on the items they may eventually propose in a spring election. Over the past year city staff, at the direction of the city council, have been working on a long-term strategic plan. Among the things they have identified as future community needs include a public library, second fire station, community center and additional sports and recreation facilities. 

Detailed descriptions of these items can be found on the city’s website. Over the past 20 years, Anna’s population has grown by nearly 1000.  As new arrivals come, many people ask about amenities that the city does not yet have.  The population growth also increases the need for more public safety officials and facilities.  Proce compared the use of general obligations bonds to taking out a mortgage on a home. He added that, since construction costs are almost guaranteed to go up, it could be financially advantageous to build some facilities sooner than later.

“What we’re looking at is a series of different types of projects, and trying to leverage our opportunity to do this at a minimal amount as possible so that it has the least impact to our neighbors,” he said. 

Throughout the call, Proce and residents discussed the need to fund projects that would enhance the community but at a cost that was tolerable to residents.  For example, a modern library is not just books, but a high-tech learning centers. However, at some point planners will need to decide just how high-tech they want the facility to be because that will ultimately determine how much money the city will ask for in the upcoming election.  The same is true of the proposed sports facilities.  That term could encompass a whole range of possibilities and price tags, so planners much spell out exactly what they are asking for before taking the request to the voters.

Throughout the call, neighbors were given questions regarding what amenities were most important to them and the burden they would be willing to incur.  The voting data is still being analyzed but will be released at a later date. 

“As we grow our needs are going to grow,” Proce said. “We’re also looking at things like thoroughfare expansion, so we stay well ahead of traffic as we grow.”

The city plans to have more forums for residents to learn about the potential bond election and provide feedback.