Local News

Voters choose $3.5 million bond

The vote is in for a new swimming pool in Hebron – 360 residents were for a new pool and 199 were against. The results are unofficial, but official results are expected today, Hebron City Clerk Jana Tietjen said.

Hebron’s swimming pool was constructed in the 1930’s and in addition to losing 20,000 gallons of water per day, it is riddled with crumbling infrastructure, including bowing in the basin.

In November, the City of Hebron sprung a vote to fund a new swimming pool through a $3.5 million bond and .5 percent raise in sales tax. Votes were due in to the county clerk’s office by Dec. 10 at 5 p.m.

Tietjen said she thought the vote was well represented by the 900 registered voters in the city. Hebron’s population was 1,511 in the 2010 census.

City officials explained the sales tax raise to 1.5 percent would help pay for the bond, scheduled to sunset in 15 years. The city will now begin the process of applying for grants, something that couldn’t be done until the major funding piece for the pool was in place.

The bond may not be as high as $3.5 million as the city uses sources like JEO Consulting and the Southeast Nebraska Development District to apply for grants, and fundraising efforts spur private donations.

The layout of the new swimming pool will feature zero entry and swim lanes that can also be used for basketball, volleyball and an underwater obstacle course. The layout also relocates the bathhouse away from the parking lot, where there is constant traffic in the summertime for swimming and ball games at the Hebron Sports & Rec Complex.

Tietjen said the pool committee, led by city council member Kyle Timmerman, will look at the results of public meeting comment forms provided at the Nov. 20 open house held by the City of Hebron. Those completing the forms requested heat, adult swim time and the obstacle course, among other suggestions.

At least one of the completed forms indicated opposition – Pat Kenner was concerned citizens didn’t have much input to consider pool options provided by JEO in a 2018 study for a new pool. The following year, the city issued the Hebron 2019 Pool Survey, created by the Nebraska Public Power District. Fifty-five percent of those completing the survey were “very likely” to elect a bond issue for a new pool. Thirty-one percent were “likely” and 14 percent were “unlikely.”

In answering the question, “What are the three most important things you learned about this project?” Kenner wrote the survey had perhaps been used to influence public opinion, and how bond issues impact different communities.

Kenner produced charts and graphs to explain why a city of Hebron’s size was no match for the same type of bond proposal in larger cities, like Fairbury and Geneva, where pool complexes have opened.

“It would be nice to keep up with the Joneses, but we don’t have the same tax base,” Kenner stated.

He also questioned the prioritization of other city departments because the bond proposal would eat up 53 percent of the city’s general fund receipts.