Friday, October 3, 2008
Dan Coody's $39 Million October Surprise
On the City Council agenda for next Tuesday, October 7, are four very important items regarding SouthPass that have escaped the notice of the local newspapers and television stations: (1) a resolution to amend the Master Street Plan that has not yet been considered by the Street Committee; (2) an ordinance annexing 856 acres of the development into the city; (3) an ordinance approving the developers' 910.36-acre Planned Zoning District; and (4) a resolution expressing the willingness of the City of Fayetteville to cost share street and sewer infrastructure costs that would be utilized by both the Southpass Development and the future community park. It is the last one that Mayor Dan Coody has kept secret for four years and has studiously avoided sharing the exorbitant price tag with the public and the City Council, his little October Surprise for the taxpayers.
After more than four years of promising to help pay for the extension of water, sewer, and roads to the proposed SouthPass development outside the city limits and the Connie Edmonston Regional Softball Park next to a leaking abandoned dump, Dan Coody has finally put a price tag on what he is asking the taxpayers to pony up. You had better be sitting down before reading this. The total cost in 2008 dollars is $39,115,229. Dan is proposing to trust a cost-share agreement with a Limited Liability Corporation that includes some developers who cannot finance construction on property acquired from the city after cleared by a $3.6 million TIF district. If approved and if the developers ever perform, that would still leave the city's residents obligated for $26,168,218 to get a park. Not counting inflation and another debacle, of course.
That's right, only $26 million for a park under Coody's proposed partnership with these developers. Considering the rate of inflation in highway construction that nearly tripled in three years on the Crossover Road project and considering Dan's financially disasterous experience with the massive $66 million cost over run on the sewer plant debacle in only a few years, that $26 million will be what . . . $100 million? Who knows? No one. Not the Mayor, and not the City Council. Least of all the taxpayers who will be asked to finance the project through yet another bond issue and increased water and sewer rates.
Dan Coody has failed to present a balanced budget for next year, and now he is asking us to trust him on this dubious project of questionable need and tremendous expense. Any Alderman who votes against it will be labeled by Coody as being against parks, and Greg Harton will gleefully publish that spin. Any Alderman who votes for it cannot be trusted on financial matters and should not be reelected. It is a bad bargain, paying a minimum of $26 million to $39 million before inflation and mismanagement for a sports park. We cannot afford it. Just say No.