Regarding the Dec. 23 Forum guest commentary “City’s future is looking bright” by John J. Coalfield:
The sentiments of our city manager are delivered in the holiday spirit, but they dress up the facts so they are barely recognizable. According to a report published in October, the National League of Cities expects the nationwide downturn in city revenues to last at least another three years, primarily because the downward influence on property taxes of declining property values has yet barely been felt.
You won’t find any of that in our five-year financial plan, which projects substantial increases in property tax revenue. I think Mr. Caulfield is speaking and planning as if long-held hopes have been realized when he says “we have pulled together to attract private investment and develop public facilities.”
There hasn’t been a substantial new “private investment” downtown in over three years. The Richie D’s space has been empty for two years. The Post Office will be moving soon. The trophy shop and the archery range are in the process of moving.
City Hall is empty. The first step in the much ballyhooed Downtown Plan was to borrow $2.7 million to move operations to a building by the freeway. Those dollars, which have to be paid back in full in five years, subtracted from activity downtown. Now they intend to demolish city hall, leaving no affordable option if taxpayers’ finances are still reeling in 2012 and 2013.
Council might consider the question posed when council would not put the fire station to a public vote in 2003: “What happens if the voters say no?” It really matters this time. Council does not have bonding authority sufficient to build a $45 million facility. It must go to a public vote.
City insiders can “pull together” all they want. They can’t spend money they don’t have and can’t borrow.