We'll shine the spotlight this morning on a fascinating document which we received this morning from one of our alert Weber County Forum readers. Over the past few years we've complained about the the millions of taxpayer dollars which have been expended since 2005 to service the Ogden Junction's back-breaking bond debt, notwithstanding Godfrey's earlier promises that the taxpayers would "never be on the hook." We've regularly expressed our strong concerns that this bond debt was driving our city into insolvency. From our own reading of this document, it appears that those oft-stated concerns have indeed been squarely on the mark. Check out this document, which amounts to an explicit admission on the part of Godfrey administration officials that we've been right all along:
• OGDEN CITY REDEVELOPMENT AGENCY TAXING ENTITY COMMITTEE MEETING MINUTES - June 25, 2009 – 4:08 p.m.The Taxing Entity Committee (TEC) is the representative body, by the way, of the various taxing entities, from the State School Board to our Weber County Government, who share in the property taxes which flow from projects such as The Junction. This is also the entity which ultimately decides how tax increment dollars are divvied up.
What appears to be happening here folks, is that the Godfrey administration is admitting (behind the scenes, so far) that The Junction has become the unsustainable financial albatross which many of us predicted it would be. This document now reveals that the administration is going back to the TEC, seeking concessions (an extension) which would enable Ogden City to continue exploiting 100% of the project's tax increment until the year 2026.
Among other things revealed by the above-linked meeting minutes is that the Godfrey administration is also proposing "mitigation payments," (i.e., "payoffs") to the other taxing entities, in order to persuade these agencies (who depend on Junction tax revenue) to go along. This, of course, is the "debt upon debt" to which Assistant CE&D Director Mr. McConkie refers in the meeting minutes... which could come at a high price, possibly in the millions of dollars.
What's also obvious from a reading of these minutes is that this concept went off "like a lead balloon" in the June 25, 2009 TEC meeting, as the committee voted 7-1 to table the proposal and look for other alternatives. Nevertheless, with the 2009 municipal election fast approaching, in which Boss Godfrey's questionable financial acumen already presents a major hurdle for candidates on the "Godfrey Ticket," this latest development will be quite interesting to watch.
And one more thing. Old cowboy wisdom axiom: "If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop diggin'."
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