Rock Island County Board talk safety sales tax, approve Snowstar

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ROCK ISLAND CO., Ill. (KWQC) – The Rock Island County Board met Tuesday night. Amongst other discussions, was Snowstar’s proposal to operate all year, and putting a half-cent sales tax referendum on the March 2018 ballot.

The safety sales tax was last seen on a ballot in November 2017 during the general election. It failed. The budget committee chairman made a motion to approve it go before voters again this spring. But some board members spoke up asking the matter to be tabled.

“This was a recommendation from our past administrator and it may very well be that a future administrator may want to rethink this,” said board member Drue Mielke. “And I'm in favor of re-looking [at] this. I don't think it would pass.”

The matter was tabled in a 19-1 vote. It will not go back to the Rock Island County Budget Committee. The board still has time to put this on the ballot if it comes to them for another vote. The deadline to put the safety sales tax on the March ballot is January.

Later in the meeting, a months-long issue to allow year-round operations at Snowstar was voted on. It passed 18-2.

This comes as the park is gearing up for its winter season. General Manager Dan McCanna says winter activities are still the park's primary focus, but the Tuesday night vote opened the door for more.

McCanna says Snowstar has already had interest from brides in renting the lodge and expect that use to begin in the spring. Also in the spring, they will discuss if they want to add a zip line or an obstacle course of some sort.

One of the hold ups on year-round operations was traffic concerns from people who live near the park. The McCanna says they have already been in contact with some of those neighbors to help ease minds.

“Yes, there will be more traffic but nothing like what we have during the winter time when we're open for regular business,” McCanna said. “ We have made promises to one of our neighbors who's a farmer. [When] he needs to move equipment…I'll be out there directing traffic to help him get through.”

After the county board meeting ended the Rock Island County Forest Preserve Commission, made up of the same members as the county board, met.

They held a public hearing about bonds to fund upgrades at Loud Thunder.

The commission is looking to borrow $4.5 million. The money would be used for dam and spillway fixes as well as RV campsite upgrades.

According to the forest preserve commission chairman, one person spoke out at tonight's public hearing in favor of using bonds to upgrade the facility.

The next action on this will be in November. On Nov. 21 the commission will need to vote on a resolution approving the bonds.