Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Simple Steps to Passing a Levy

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Simple Steps to Passing a Levy

Article excerpt

The success of a campaing levy is often determined by how well one does one's homework. One of the best ways to prepare is to conduct and extensive leisure facility study, preferably with the help of a consultant to ensure an unbiased study. The leisure facility study should involve citizens, public officials and your parks and recreation staff. The study should inventory and collect the demographics of the community, existing facilities and programs, participation levels and facility usage, future program plans and needs and inventory the community's recreational opportunities. The study should also include a citizen's attitude and opinion survey, and income and expense review, a program analysis and space requirements. The study should conclude with a statement of needs and conclusions and a statement of recommendations. This approach will establish strong credibility, clearly show your recommendations were based on sound research, and that there is public support for the project.

The timing as to when to go on the ballot needs to be considered. Do you want to be on the ballot at a general election, a primary election or a special elections? There are pros and cons to each. Also, you'll want to research any other issues that will be on the ballot with your past election issues and upcoming issues. You most likely will not want to be on the ballot at the same time as the school board or other major issues. You will need to work with the board of elections to follow the ballot process procedures and work with a lawyer to develop the ballot language. The county auditor will work with you on determining the mileage. A property owner's tax increase chart will visually help the voter understand the impact the levy will have on their taxes.

After you've done your homework and have gained the complete support of your council, board, administration and staff, you're ready to develop your campaign strategy.

The first campaign step is to form a "committe for recreation." The committee should be comprised of your board members as the leaders, recreation supporters and key staff. You can recruit your committee through recreation enthusiasts in your community, senior adult members, youth association participants, volunteers, service organizations and anyone and everyone that has an interest.

The next campaign step is to develop a campaign goal based on what you want the campaign to produce. Such goals can include:

* To meet the voters' need of information to make a decision.

* Show the voters that your recommendations are the most pragmatic and the best economic solution to meeting the community's need for recreation facilities.

You need to budget the campaign. Anticipated budget expenses include printing flyers, postage for flyers, mail-house expenses, yard signs, balloons, ribbons, refreshments for the galas and miscellaneous expenses. You also need a "citizens for information" fund. A 501C3 Foundation is an excellent means to run the funds through. Fundraising is critical for success, so appoint a strong fundraiser. Remember, no public funds can be used for the campaign.

The committee should develop a schedule outlining key tasks to be completed. The schedule should include the timeframe for: fundraising, neighborhood meetings, public hearings, a campaign kick-off gala, bond squads, committee canvasing, yard signs and displays, phone bank and a direct mailer.

Next, the committee must determine its public. Which audiences must the campaign message reach to produce the goals? In an aquatic situation, this could be your pool users, your lesson program, your swim team, your master swimmers, passholders, senior adults, special populations and special interest users.

Based on your goal and your public to be reached, you should develop a theme. Ask, "What is the basic idea to be communicated?" You want the theme to be clear and concise, requiring little to no explanation. …

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