aShortChronicle previously told readers about a recent Civics 101 class in Davidson where Town Manager Jamie Justice said putting public facilities spending before the voters was "not recommended". Justice went on to ask (seemingly rhetorically) "What if the voters say no?"
Well, what we didn't say in that original post from March was "who" asked the question of Justice during that class about seeking voter input using General Obligation or GO bonds which require voter approval. That person turned out to be Rusty Knox, an announced candidate for Davidson Mayor this November.
In light of the eye popping numbers thrown around at Tuesday's Town Board meeting to support the proposed public facilities expansion ($17 million to be exact), aShortChronicle reached out to Knox to see what he had to say.
Here's Knox's response in italics:
The latest news from Town Hall regarding the potential “public facilities” project is a little overwhelming. What started as a genuine need for additional, and greatly needed, space for our police and fire departments plus some additional space for staff has turned into a $17 million dollar soft version of the Catalyst project from 3 years ago. Included in the plan is a total redo of the area that contains the farmers market. Surprisingly, when surveyed most residents and vendors love the “organic” nature of our farmers market. This plan allows for more food trucks to park within the confines of the market area. These trucks will come to town, park, make money and leave….taking away revenue from our local restaurants that have banner days on Saturday mornings.
As the process has moved forward “post Catalyst” one thing has been crystal clear, our Mayor and some of our Board members are in favor of ANYTHING that says development. This latest round of development is something that will cost the taxpayers. Our space constraints are real; if you don’t think so, go ask to tour the police or fire departments. Our staff, which is stellar, works in cramped quarters as well. Is there a need, absolutely? Should we be moving forward with some form of expansion, yes? Is that need $17 million? The last time Davidson spent this kind of money was in 2007 on Mi-Connection. Expenditures by the town at this level need voter input and support.
I feel that when you are putting these kinds of numbers out there and we still are shouldering a loss from the cable purchase that represents 9% of our budget, a general obligation bond would serve the town in realizing some of our lofty goals. The town should know by now that public support is paramount. From our Core Values “Citizens entrust town government with the stewardship of public funds, so government will provide high quality services at a reasonable cost.” Most citizens know that the actions of our Mayor, Board and Staff are in the best interest of the town, but at this price tag, the voters need to say yea or nay.
So, there you have it. At least one person planning to seek public office thinks the public should have a say in these things.