Voters in Pottawattamie County will be heading to the polls Tuesday to decide on a $1.5-million bond issue proposal for the building of a new veterans center. The Omaha World-Herald reports the Pott. County Board decided in January to present a proposal to the voters during a special election. 60 percent approval is required for the measure to pass. County officials held an informational meeting Saturday on the proposal.
The new building would be located on what is now a county parking lot at Sixth Avenue and Sixth Street. The 6,300-square-feet building would include meeting rooms, a computer lab and handicapped-accessible restrooms.
The current 1,600-square-foot veterans affairs office is located in a former Sunday school at 223 S. Sixth St. The agency helps the 8,000 or so Pottawattamie County veterans apply for federal benefits, navigate government paperwork, arrange food, shelter and utilities if needed and receive other services. It also helps surviving family members of deceased veterans. The staff handles about 300 veteran visits and fields about 670 phone calls per month.
A current lack of space means that donated clothing for veterans has been moved to the hallway outside of the office.There is also no computer lab, meaning it’s difficult to provide veterans privacy when filling out the government paperwork that must be done online. Many of the elderly veterans don’t understand computers, but even the younger and computer-savvy may need the staff’s help. There is also no private place for veterans to meet with outside counselors.
County officials estimate that if the bond issue passes, someone with a house valued at $100,000 will pay an additional $5.92 per year in property taxes for the next three years, assuming that the bonds are sold for a three-year period.