On Tuesday, voters in Finney County will decide whether to move forward with projects deemed important for many years.

A proposed 0.3-cent sales-tax hike would fund four projects: construction, operation and maintenance of a third fire station on the east side of the city; improving a section of Jennie Barker Road; upgrades at Lee Richardson Zoo; and construction and operation of an 11,000-square-foot indoor shooting range for use by local law enforcement and the public.

The fire station addresses pressure from Garden City growth, with emergency response time always a concern. The sales-tax increase would fund the fire station on city-owned land at the northwest corner of Schulman Avenue and Jennie Barker Road, and include related public safety facilities for Emergency Medical Services and local police.

The overdue upgrade of a portion of Jennie Barker Road between Schulman Avenue and K-156 would turn the two-lane rural road into a three-lane urban road with a left-turn lane, sidewalks and traffic signals at the intersection of Mary Street and K-156.

Anticipated growth to the north and east in Garden City is driving the need for upgrades to Jennie Barker Road, which already sees heavy traffic. Half of the road was improved years ago, and it’s time to finish the job.

The zoo project would create an Animal Health Facility and new exhibits recommended by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to shore up conditions for animals and zoo staff.

The AZA has high standards for accredited zoos and aquariums. This community cannot allow the zoo, a crown-jewel attraction, to slide in any way.

The indoor gun range would replace the current and deteriorating facility built in the 1960s and used by local police and the public.

The estimated cost of the four projects would be about $11 million — a hefty sum regardless of how it’s covered, but a bigger burden if paid for through local property taxes.

The more reasonable approach would be in the modest sales-tax hike estimated to generate $2.15 million annually, especially with a good chunk coming from the many out-of-town visitors who head here to shop and dine.

Finney County residents should vote yes.


Holcomb USD 363 bond issues

Voters in Holcomb USD 363 will decide whether to invest their tax dollars in a pair of projects.

One proposed bond issue calls for security enhancements at each of the Holcomb schools — Wiley and Holcomb elementary schools, Holcomb Middle School and Holcomb High School. The plan also includes HVAC and plumbing upgrades at Holcomb Elementary, and HVAC upgrades and a storm shelter/wrestling room addition at the high school.

Particulars in that ballot question alone total about $4 million — a sizeable cost for local taxpayers, but one that’s undeniably necessary.

There’s no more important consideration than safety when it comes to investing dollars in school improvements. Adding security cameras and remodeling security offices, as proposed, makes sense and warrants support.

That’s not to say the second item on the ballot Tuesday for voters in USD 363 — a proposed multiuse facility — is without merit.

A 14,500-square-foot, standalone facility would be located southeast of the high school and northeast of the football field. It would replace outdated, cramped facilities for athletic teams, while also adding space for educational activities at a cost of about $3.4 million.

While both plans will improve the educational setting for students and patrons, voters at least should approve the security-focused upgrades.