A couple observations for now:
Hybrid Infrastructure Funding
I was saved all of my major talking points. Didn’t have to bring them up at all. Here’s why: Sandack and Durkin have correctly zeroed in on the need for a hybrid of funding sources that includes borrowing in addition to a full plate of tax and fee hikes. Some residents may speak about the fairness of this tax and that fee, and they may have legitimate points, but we don’t have the luxury of time to lock in funding, and the village has to get going on this now. Several projects that should have been done this year were sidelined for 2008. Project deferral cannot continue to happen. As residents, we didn’t pay for what needed to be done for the last 20 years, so now we have to pay for that and what needs to be done once back to square one.
Sandack pushed staff on how much could be done each year; what was the upper limit of staff’s capabilities to finish projects and check them off the ‘To Do’ list. Durkin was right there too. Durkin even commented on how quiet I was all day. They both did a credible job voicing a willingness and a need to focus on job #1.
Ron and Sean, on this very important multi-year budget item, and for this critical resident need, get it. Flooding and infrastructure come first for CIP priority. Period. Everything else: get in line.
Staff wants $850,000 budgeted for the first phase of preliminary design (site and layout mainly I think) for the new police station and Civic Center. That’s $850,000 that could be spent on flooding. Tully spoke to not letting another need go unaddressed too long. Speaking as a resident, the past unaddressed needs of residents, that directly and negatively impacts our health, safety, and welfare, is far more important than a new Government Center. Does the Police Department need a new facility? I believe them when they say they do; I don’t have the specialized information as to what the needs and shortfalls of the current facility are.
New Village Hall? I won’t argue the need here, but I will say this: the current facilities are being maintained, and needs are being budgeted for on an ongoing basis. My one car may be 10 years old, but until the maintenance costs more than the payment and maintenance on a new one, I think the old one is a keeper. I’d like a shiny new one with all the go-fasters, but I have college educations that are front and center that are more important.
So it is with the new Government Center. Sandack and Durkin heard what residents said last election loud and clear, and it was not ‘build a new muni center’, it was ‘FIX OUR STREETS AND FLOODING!!!!’ We won’t have the cash to do both, we will need to borrow to get ‘bundles’ of infrastructure projects funded and finished as fast as possible, and we should not drain off needed funding for projects that can wait.
I suggested at the budget workshop that the Government Center be a topic for the 2008 Total Community Discussion (TCD 3 or whatever it’s called), so residents can weigh in and be heard. The ECC should also weigh in with ideas that can contribute to reducing the costs of heating and cooling such a large facility, with ideas like passive solar, thermal pumps, green roofing, even small wind or active solar should be on the table as discussion points for design elements. The ADRC should weigh in with suggestions for a design theme fitting for our downtown, and provide some early input. And I think we our village should reach out to some of our many expert architects for ideas and input. This is an item that we do have the luxury of time for. The current facilities may be outdated and in need of replacing, but it needs to be done in a manner that is cost efficient, needs efficient, and energy efficient.
Next up is figuring out how much all of this is going to really cost us. Now, most of what you read about the budgeting process best practices say it starts with the strategic plan (which our local government didn’t get around to updating this year) while at the same time getting a rough ball park on what would be in the revenue pipeline; THEN figure out what gets what. Instead, we’re relying on last years strategic report (maybe not a bad thing), with the process looking like figuring out what local government wants to do, then figuring out how much we have to pay for it all.
Not many of us have the option of simply letting our boss know how much extra they’ll be paying us this year so we can deal with state, county, and local tax and fee increases, so I hope council keeps this in mind when they get down to brass tacks.