Thursday, September 29, 2011

Standard-Examiner: Hearing on BDO Lease Funds Extended

You're all invited to examine Boss Godfrey's proposed $1 Million Wish List, and offer your own takes on which items are (or are not) legit

At the suggestion of one of our gentle readers, we'll put the spotlight on the following back-burner Standard-Examiner news item, which is probably deserving of at least some Weber County Forum reader discussion.

Scott Schwebke sets forth the essential facts in his opening paragraphs, wherein he describes the full panoply of expenditures which would be funded by the diversion of a cool $ 1 mil of BDO lease revenues into the administration's hot little hands:
OGDEN -- The city council decided Tuesday night to continue until Nov. 1 a public hearing on a request from the administration to use about $1 million in Business Depot Ogden lease revenues to help revitalize east central neighborhoods.
The continuance is needed to allow the city council more time to study the request, said Bill Cook, the council's executive director.
Specifically, the administration is requesting $550,000 for its infill housing program, which would refurbish or reuse existing homes that are in poor condition or, in some cases, build new dwellings on lots.
The administration also wants $250,000 for its unit- reduction program, which aims to reduce or eliminate rental units in single-family homes to stabilize neighborhoods.
In addition, the administration is seeking $287,000 in BDO lease revenue for infrastructure improvements in east central Ogden, including new sidewalks, curb and gutter, and water utility improvements.
Read Tuesday's full Standard-Examiner story here:
For a (slightly) more detailed description of the Administration's request to expend a cool million bucks toward Boss Godfrey's most recent wish list, check out last Tuesday's full September 27, 2011 Council Packet:
We've given Godfrey's list a quick once over, and we'll volunteer that what we're seeing is a full declension of proposed expenditures, running from those which would be designated for obviously legitimate public use items such as "sidewalks, curb and gutter, and water utility improvements," to some highly questionable public funds expenditures, such as "refurbish[ing] or reus[ing] existing homes that are in poor condition or, in some cases, build[ing] new dwellings on lots." So with respect to the range of the proposed expenditures (vaguely) included in the Administration's request, we'll ask out gentle readers to chime in below, to offer their own opinions as to which items on Boss Godfrey's list are legit... and which are not.

We had the opportunity to speak with Council woman Amy Wicks this morning by the way, to inquire about why the Council put this matter over for later action. Frankly, we'd already reviewed the above council packet over the weekend, and had fully expected the current council, which pretty much bends to the will of the Godfrey administration when it arrives at the council door looking for a handout, to robotically give this proposal the usual "rubber stamp." To our great delight, Ms. Wicks informed us this morning that the council was uncomfortable with the vague language of the administration request, had suffered some heartburn about the concept of doling out $1 Million in taxpayer dough to the Little Lord with virtually no strings attached, and therefore unanimously decided to continue the matter for further public hearing
to November 1, 2011, and in the interim, to set the council staff to work formulating a full set of firm and specific guidelines, defining how these funds would be administered by the spendthrift Godfrey Administration, (if they are to be so administered at all).

That folks, is a suddenly conscientious City Council firing on all cylinders, wethinks. Frankly we didn't know they had it in 'em.

So in closing, you're all invited to examine Boss Godfrey's proposed wish list, and offer your own takes on which items are (or are not) legit.

Have at it, O Gentle Ones.


althepal said...

Diverting large chunks of taxpayer funds into Godfrey's hot little hands is NEVER a good idea.  That's my take; and I'm stickin' with it.

blackrulon said...

I was under the impression that fnds from BDO were originally intended for infrastrucre repairs and upgrades. The original premise was that the funds would fund improvements and lower water,sewer and garbage costs for city residents.

Josie said...

Sounds like this could turn into the starts of another River Project to me (based on the vague descriptions posted above).   Something just doesn't seem quite right about this and I'm glad the Council is finally on to the Mayor (only took 12 years, but it is never too late).  If it is that important of a project and with such a high cost, let this sit until the new Mayor is elected and more details are fleshed out - it appears as if the current admin is attempting to rush this through.  Stick to your guns Council. 

Dan S. said...

It would be interesting to see a map of exactly where the proposed infrastructure improvements would be made, and how this fits into the long-term plan for the east-central neighborhood. The danger, I suppose, is that there could be a hidden agenda in helping out one small portion of the area rather than another, to benefit some property owners rather than others.

Another concern is that we just bonded for $50 million to improve water infrastructure, and raised water rates to pay off this debt. My understanding is that the economic downturn lowered the cost of much of this work and therefore the city has leftover money that it needs to spend. More generally, I'd say water systems should be paid for by water rates, rather than being subsidized by BDO lease revenue. This would free up more BDO revenue for things like sidewalk repairs that don't have any other good funding source.

rudizink said...

Good point, BR.  Any Ogden property owner who winces at the mere sight of their water bill has to wonder why  city officials aren't dedicating at least some BDO lease revenue either to mitigate the taxpayers' regular expense of the "Water Horizons" bonding, or alternatively, why the administration isn't using at least some of this BDO revenue stream to begin paying down our Water Infrastructure Bonding early.

Dan S. said...

I'd rather see water users pay the full cost of water infrastructure through their utility bills. (I don't especially like way these payments are currently allocated among larger and smaller users of water, but that's another issue.) If there's extra money to spend from BDO, let's invest it in other infrastructure like sidewalks, or save our pennies until we can afford a streetcar.

rudizink said...

"...or save our pennies until we can afford a streetcar."

Hmmmm.... Interesting concept indeed!

ChelseaDMamanakis said...

IS this the seed money to bulldoze the bench?

blackrulon said...

"...the city has leftover money it has to spend". Why does it have to spend the money? Why not use the leftover money to pay down the bond debt?

Dan S. said...

Again, I think the cost of the water system should be paid by the water customers. But if you're suggesting that the city pay down some of its other debts, that'd be fine with me.

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