Tell Me Lies--Tell Me Sweet Little LiesPosted Sunday, September 19, 2010, at 9:55 AM
Do we really need a loan and higher taxes to create recreation?
On September 9, 2010, I attended my first and last CLDC Budget & Finance Meeting. Here is what was being proposed for the taxpayers of Mountain Home, Idaho.
1. A 1.7/1.6 million dollar bond to build a facility with no gym or pool.
2. This is projected to raise YOUR taxes by $145.00 (if you now pay around $80.00) and could take 25 years to pay off at 6.5% interest (annual payment would be $356,279.22) and this is ONLY taxes and does not include membership fees.
3. There are, according to Budget & Finance, 323 homes for sale---275 of which are in the city. This number does not include some foreclosures (if they are not for sale or on the MLS).
4. Budget & Finance did not want to consider the vacancy rate for homes in this area. They wanted to "assume" this number was included in the recent survey results (the same survey that based their info on 10 + year old data).
5. Budget & Finance did not want to charge people out of district more money. In other words, people out of district would pay the same as a taxpayer who has financed this goat rope for the last 10 years! Why? Because the survey determined that people will only drive around 15 minutes to use a facility. So, they feel that the number for people out of district will be very low. Again---"assume."
This group NEVER considered a plan that worked with the money we have. We never looked at a plan that did not include a building.
So, in short, we have paid the YMCA thousands and thousands of dollars to consult. It was determined as of 9/13/10 that a 1.6 million dollar bond (for a construction loan) was "feasible" for this community---which means a large tax increase.
I am no longer on Budget & Finance for this project. It is my opinion that this "process" has been tainted in some way with survey results that failed to take into account the following:
People may want pools but are they willing to pay for them (they run in the red and do not make money and require costly maintenance)?
People may want pools but are they willing to pay higher taxes and huge membership fees to have them? We would also be looking forward to a 3% increase in taxes each and every year until the loan/bond was paid for. Were they aware of this? Would they pay for this?
When the numbers of this survey are "off" (they based the numbers in the survey on 10 year old population data and showed MH had a population increase of 41% over the last ten years---the number is more like 4% growth rate) are people willing to pay that difference?
If the income revenue projected is off, it needs to be made up in fees to run and maintain a facility. Are people willing to do that?
In this economy why can we just not work with what we have? We have 2 million dollars saved. Improve the city pool. Improve programs already in place. Create ball fields, etc. on the land that was purchased. Improve upon the great programs we have. Prove to the public that you can run this and that it will at least break even or maybe make a small profit. Do this with what you HAVE---not what you can take.
This economy is expected to get worse. It is the worst economy since the great depression. Record numbers of people are out of work and have lost (or will lose) their homes. More jobs will be lost. Are MORE taxes really a great thing for a community that is already under water and in trouble? Do we really need to build at a facility that could put local businesses out of business?
If anyone would like to see the emails on this or the info, I have it. You are more than welcome to have all of it. This "open and honest" process has become like our current White House---anything but.
2 million dollars could go a long way towards recreation in this community (with a board willing to see that that is). People have obtained prices on buildings for under $17.00/SF (just the building). It would be a very multi-purpose building. This would allow for leftover money to fund RECREATION. Why go into hock for something that is really nothing more than an "assumption." Do we really want to take a chance?
In all fairness, there is also an "Option 3." That is the facility that has it all---pools, gym, etc. In order to build "Option 3" there will need to be a loan obtained for 6.5 million dollars. The loan will be repaid over 25 years at 6.5% with a yearly payment of $725,277.63. It will raise YOUR yearly taxes by as much as $215.00 (based on if you are currently paying $80.00 per year). And both have been called "feasible" by the YMCA finance person. Does this sound "feasible" to you as a taxpayer? This facility is projected to serve under 15% of our community yet ALL will pay for it. Who defines "feasible" here?
The time for recreation is now and it needs to be debt free. It has been 10 years. Now after 1 year of consulting with the YMCA we are in the same place that the WECRD had us...we want the Mercedes but we can only AFFORD a Toyota. There were some really good, smart, objective people on this project. It could have been a really good thing.
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I have lived in Mountain Home for over 11 years now. I love to be outdoors in wide open spaces (as long as it does not involve camping...in a tent and an out house). I dislike Government waste/abuse of tax dollars and "sky is the limit" spending by those that we elect to represent "us." I value free speech when what is stated is factual (as opposed to lies, gossip and un-truths). I love the Chicago White Sox (I never said I was perfect) and the Broncos are okay too! I am 38 years old and married to a guy who is active duty USAF (and a Cubs fan...he is the "perfect" one). I am anti-nuclear and against further desecration of our planet with waste that we can do little to nothing with. If you dislike blunt, this is not the blog for you. Enjoy!
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