Bountiful City is making another foray into getting a new city hall. This marks the third time in about four years. See my posts on the city hall issue for their prior attempts and tactics. Evidently, again, city hall simply isn’t good enough and is considered “blighted” for their RDA scheme. By that standard, if you live in a 39+ year old home, time to demo that blight and rebuild, forget remodeling!
In a letter* penned by Councilman Pitt, he explains that they absolutely listened to citizens who asked that no new city hall be built. After they listened, they just chose to ignore citizens’ plea.
…The multi-city, multi-agency committee showed its approval and confidence in the proposal by voting to extend Bountiful’s Redevelopment Agency, thus investing $21.7 million of tax payer money in downtown over the next several years.
The letter lists off some additional non-core government pet projects that will be funded including “Assistance with a future education center on site of the old city hall”. I believe this is code speak for the art center/museum that was rejected by citizens last time they tried this (EDIT: I re-read the faq and I think he’s referring to the UofU using the old building but that may still include the art/museum as well) . Back then, I ran the numbers and noted that the museum was supposed to cost $1.5 Million with half coming from the private sector…cost overruns indeed. Now, entire project costs are about $8 Million higher. They sure listened…
…The projected cost to build the new city hall is $13 million. Not $20 million as claimed by Better Bountiful. That represents a net cost of $6.5 million over what it would cost to remodel the current site as advocated by Better Bountiful.
In 2013, the new city hall cost was $9.5-10.5 million, now we’re up to $13 million**, an approximate 30% increase. Plus, add another $8.7 million for the other items they want to fund. So yeah, Better Bountiful has a point – this overall projected is being spearheaded by the city hall issue and has now ballooned from an initial $10 million to $21.7 million.
Once upon a time, private donations were to help pay for the museum etc. Now that’s not the case and costs continue to climb. I wish interest groups and politicians would stop to consider people aren’t interested in paying for their pet projects and these things take money by governmental force from young families, fixed income elderly, and public schools (RDA funding = forgone tax revenue). It would be courteous if they would stick to their original (partial) plan to raise private funds for some of this stuff instead of defaulting to forcing others to pay.
Finally, remember how desperate our roads needed help so local politicians and city councils passed resolutions in support of a tax increase (which gave them a kickback for bailing out UTA)? The Bountiful City Council passed the resolution on June 23, 2015. Taxes were increased but as one Clipper commenter noted, the city council seems to have other priorities:
It would seem that the council would rather build an edifice to themselves rather than make due with what they have, and get the roads fixed…
*As an aside: note the humorous title of the letter…gotta love thinly veiled attempts at localized propaganda.
** On Mr. Pitt’s confusing numbers: renovations are an already expensive $6.5 million, new building is $13 million – a net increase in project cost of $6.5 million. The way he phrased this may lead folks to think the new building is $6.5 million when it is actually $13 million. I have no idea if that is intentional salesman spin or poor clarity in writing on his part but if he penned the city’s faq (see Bountiful City website), then it may be the former:
In the faq, the author attempts to justify a new city hall as an economic driver for Main Street. I’m sorry, a new city hall is not a tourist attraction. The same clients coming for permits are not going to all-of-a-sudden start burning cash on Main St. because city hall has a new car smell. Private business is an economic driver, not pretty new government buildings with no additional service.
Other justifications for the spending include a plaza for chalk art and a car show. Both of these already have perfectly adequate venues and interest groups are welcome to fund improvements (if they actually even want any in the first place) rather than tapping taxpayers/schools.