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Town Hall - where's the facts?

Not too long ago council borrowed $8 million dollars to build Carriage Trails Parkway.  They kept rolling over the short term notes until the debt became $13 million.  Then they got a public / private partnership going where the private party paid the debt down so that there is only $7 million dollars left on that original investment.  Of course the city has borrowed another $12 million dollars in that public private relationship so the total Carriage Trails debt is pretty close to $20 million dollars.  Staff and council keep telling me that we are gaining on the problem and our continued support is needed to make sure that we eventually will get enough people buying houses there to pay off the debt.  I've been asking since taking office for an analysis that shows the wisdom of continued investment.  I'd much rather be writing an article showing the wisdom of council and staff but without being able to produce some kind of analysis I won't.
 
Recently, council has decided that instead of borrowing the money to pay for the new Carriage Trails improvements they would spend the money from the Water and Sewer reserve funds.  Well, actually the plan is to borrow the money from the Water and Sewer funds because it is cheaper.  So I've asked for and been promised a repayment schedule.  I'd much rather be writing an article showing council's commitment to keeping our water and sewer funds strong.  But as you might suspect council is unwilling to support my request that staff provide this in writing where it can be recorded as part of the public record. 
 
In 2010 the city had a professional audit done which said we could responsibly borrow up to $6 million dollars for a TIF project.  Council borrowed $10 million dollars to build the Aquatic Center and Recreational complex.   Last year council decided to borrow another $18 million for a Music center, $1.3 million for a VIP section, $750,000 for an electric sign all while telling us that it would be paid back by using TIF dollars.  For more than a year I've been asking council and staff to explain in a public forum how we can borrow so much more than what the audit tells us is responsible?  
 
Tonight at the Town Hall another resident asked the same question for the 4th or 5th time and was told he hasn't been given an answer because he hasn't come over during the day and sat with staff to listen to their pitch.  Tonight I became irate because I have taken time during the day.  Before I came over I let staff know I was coming to discussion the three issues outlined above.  After spending my allotted time there those items had only been explained in broad terms and only verbally.  I left with the promise that the information would be prepared in a way that could be verified and checked.  A couple weeks later I followed up and tonight, a couple weeks later still, I just couldn't take the dismissive attitude staff presented as this resident again legitimately pressed for an explanation that would help the community understand the financial situation of the City.
 
So I again call for council to demand that staff prepare analysis of the three issues above.  The reports should be written so an 8th grader can understand and the information should be detailed enough to satisfy the requirements of a college sophomore class.  Bring those reports to the public and publish them so that we can see what is needed to be done in order to make sure we are on a path that will allow us to maintain our water and sewer investments, pay our debts, and strengthen our city.

 

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