Drainage, City Hall, and Peace of Mind

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CENTRAL FIRST BLUEb largerI just can’t get on board for spending $4.5 million from Central’s cash reserves on a 17,000 square foot City Hall when elected officials are stating that Central has a $20 to $24 million drainage problem that the city does not have the money to fix. “Drainage First” is at the top of my list of concerns for Central, and I see a coordinated path to address that concern: Develop a Capital Outlay Plan and issue bonds to fix the drainage.
A well thought out long-term Capital Outlay Plan would meet the needs of drainage, road repair, and other capital projects, and leave a cushion in reserve for emergencies such as hurricanes and flooding. Once these critical needs are prioritized, if resources permit, the city could build an attractive and practical City Hall in a well-planned City Center area.
The recent rain event that flooded homes in Central was not a city-wide catastrophe, but it was a vivid reminder of how vulnerable this “City Between Two Rivers” is to flooding, and points again to the need for a swift solution. The citizens of Central, most of whom flooded 18 months ago, simply want to know that, regardless of what has or has not been done so far, there is a plan in place for Central to do everything we can toward fixing the problem as soon as possible. Yes, there are issues downstream that are beyond our control, but there is plenty to be done to address local drainage problems, which is the focus of the $20-plus million that we are discussing.
Because the city’s cash reserves are limited, here is my suggestion to approach the drainage problems in three steps: 1) Stop discretionary spending until the scope of the drainage problem is understood and the solution is funded, 2) Ask the voters to approve the issuance of municipal bonds to fund the repairs with no new or raised taxes, 3) Complete the drainage study and fix the drainage problem as soon as possible.
Let me say again that I oppose any additional taxes. Central already collects more than enough sales taxes to pay off $20 million in bonds for drainage repair without creating or raising any taxes. I’m just asking that the City put those tax dollars to work – the dollars that the citizens are already paying – to protect our homes and businesses from flooding.
Finally, I do not advocate spending money on major drainage projects until we fully understand how Central’s drainage system works and where the money needs to be spent. Fortunately, the city’s $1 million Comprehensive Drainage Plan is slated for completion just months from now. By the time municipal bonds could be voted on by the citizens and sold, the study should be finished and the repairs can begin.