Both today’s headlines at The Principality’s community newspaper, School Board Proposes $62.1 Million Budget For the 2004-05 Year and Disputed Tulane Street Project Moves Forward, continue to drive home the hair-raising possibilities of further expenses.
The school budget, they wail, “is continually forced to tack on unfunded mandates, which leaves little or no money for local spending”, and “This year’s budget will only contain Level I spending, which includes expenditures needed to maintain programs. No Level II spending, which would pay to expand programs or add new ones will be part of the budget”.
Forgive me while I play the world’s smallest violin, but my husband and I have lived for years making sure we have an emergency fund for “maintaining programs” — avoiding getting into debt, making sure the house is well maintained, not spending money frivolously, and, when doing any project on the house itself, keeping in mind that any construction can (and often does) end up being 25% more expensive than projected. All the while, the taxpayers are, thanks to local overspending, “continually forced to tack on unfunded mandates”, which are endless.
The schools now need more money: $500,000 will be used to furnish the schools, even when that cost was supposed to be covered by the $100 million bond issue for the construction project but unforeseen costs ate up that money, and $103,000 on top of that will be eaten up by construction delays. “Neither of these costs will affect taxes” in The Principality, said the Board Secretary. Why am I doubtful?
The second article reminds us that, on top of the $18-19 million spent on the Library, there’s the $1.3 million library plaza. The library plaza, BTW, is more or less the size of a basketball court (no, you won’t be able to play basketball there), and yes, it is public space in the middle of prime real estate.
But the article is not about that.
The article’s about Phase II of the Downtown Development Project. Phase I is the 5-story parking-garage-built-on-the-stream, (Building A). Phase II is a 5-story mixed use building with 53 apartments (Building C). No mention of Building B in the article. All of this abecedary construction is, again, subsidized by the taxpayer, in prime real estate, developed by a former Borough Council member without the benefit of public bidding, and won’t pay taxes (instead there’s “in lieu of taxes” stuff in the works). It all comes down to some $13-14million for now, at least that’s the amount of the bond issue (not to be confused with the $100 school bond).
At least the opposition making noises. On a letter to the editor, “Redevelopment Project” Led Inexorably to Huge Tax Increase, the attorney for Concerned Citizens of The Principality points out that the parking-garage-built-on-the-stream was completed before there was a final judicial ruling on the legality of the bond issue. He raises the question “the Borough may find itself wondering what to do with illegally-issued bonds that financed the 5-story” parking-garage-built-on-the-stream.
Hair raising, indeed.