Friday, May 19, 2017

Surprise!!! No GO Bond Vote on New Town Hall say Davidson Commissioners

aShortChronicle has been following up on the possibility of Davidson's first ever General Obligation (GO) bond vote, and the results will likely surprise readers.

As reported earlier the initial cost estimates for the project came in just at $17 million including a 30% contingency.  Here is the breakdown.

As the headline to this post indicates however, there will be no bond vote to fund the bulk of the Public Facilities project based on a very direct question posed to Commissioners on Thursday/Friday of this week.  Commissioners were asked their position on "putting the proposed new/remodel expenses for Town Hall/Public Safety facilities on the ballot via GO bonds."

As of Friday afternoon at 5pm 4 of 5 say they do not support the idea. (one commissioner did not respond)

All of the responses echo the same theme, rationalizing not going to the voters because this effort includes money for public safety and those are "essential services".  As elected officials they say their job is provide such services.

It should be noted however the renovation of the existing Town Hall from the above list is the portion of the bill to accommodate public safety.   That is just $1.8m out the $10.989m of overall proposed spending to house Town staff (not counting contingency) .  Said another way, the 16% of the spending needed for public safety is being leveraged to justify not going to voters for the other 84% for the rest of Town staff and some public meeting space.  Of course, some level of space is also necessary for these services, but it appears voters won't get a say in that part either.

It should also be noted that aShortChronicle has confirmed the project was discussed at a Tuesday evening Public Facilities Working Group meeting.  However, at the time of this writing more detail is not available on what was discussed.  The agenda for the May 23rd Board work session does include an update on this, but no attached detail is yet posted on the agenda.  Check here to see if that has changed.

There is always the possibility the overall Public Facilities project may be reconfigured to make it more palatable if voters will not be allowed to weigh in at the ballot box.  Maybe, it will be scaled back significantly.  Maybe, there will be some super creative financing to minimize the cost.  Maybe...

(For the record, aShortChronicle has never questioned the need for better Public Safety facilities or the spending required to achieve them.  However, it is extremely disappointing that the Board is using that need to justify not putting unrelated spending on the ballot.)

In their responses to aShortChronicle, Commissioners did indicate they favored pulling the last 4 items from the above list and putting them before voters as part of a bigger separate bond package along with a whole slew of other spending.

So, here is where we are at this point.

Voters very likely won't be allowed to have a say in a new Town Hall and public safety facilities spending, but they possibly will get to vote on an assortment of other items that could add many millions more in public spending.

Surprised yet?

Check back later this weekend for more on the items where Davidson Town Hall might be gracious enough to let you have a say at the ballot box.

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