Letter: League of Women Voters forum on CC #1
Submitted by Carson Now Reader on Thu, 10/18/2012 - 9:37am
Let me start with a disclaimer. I am not against libraries. I have an entire room dedicated to my books. But I have not used a library since I was in graduate school, because everything I needed for work was on-line or in a bookstore, too new to have made it into a library, public or private.
Yesterday the Carson City League of Women Voters held a candidate forum, beginning with a very informative discussion of ballot question 1. As always, I am not interested in the personalities and motivations of the presenters, pro and con; I went to listen for substance. The video tape may take until Monday to be ready for broadcast on the community channel or be posted on line (acctv.org).
What was shocking (shocking, shocking, I tell you) to me is that the Nugget / Library / Knowledge Center project is STILL TO BE SPECIFIED. It may be an insult to call it just a wish list (which it is...) but after all the money the city had spent on consultants, studies, architects and other research, still the only thing we have is an artist's concept drawing, a bunch of glowing marketing hype, and countless meeting minutes that refer to presentations to various committees and boards, but not even a link, reference or proper citation to the submitted materials, let alone access to the materials themselves.
We have an estimate that it will cost $28M. We can only guess what the bond issue will cost us at the end of the 30 year payback period. We have a tentative list of entities (library, BRIC, ...) that will move into the new building. We have the claim that the new building will cost no more than the existing one in terms of operation, maintenance and staffing. We have the usual politically correct buzz words -- green, LEED certification, sustainability, "for the children," civic pride, etc.
What we do NOT have is specifics. No architects plans, no engineering studies, no start-up budget, no operating budget, no business plans or studies to show how and where private development is supposed to take place if the new library is built as the magnet and catalyst for downtown revitalization. The $28M figure is an estimate, but whatever this estimate is based on, is still to be shared with the public. And it turns out we also have a confusion whether the legal filing for the tax hike is 1/4 or 1/8 cents.
Nevertheless on the ballot question we are asked to authorize a 1/4 cent hike in the sales tax.
Maybe this is how projects are evaluated and approved in the world of municipal government. It is not how it's done in the real world where the rest of us live. When I decided to finance rather than directly pay for remodeling, the broker and the lender asked for specifics -- how much? To validate how much I needed, they asked for bids from builders; the builders asked for architect's drawings, approved by the building department; and the building department required final blueprints plus seismic, energy and other engineering studies. Even then nobody knew for sure what the final cost will be, not until the builder and I agreed on precise specification of owner preference items, such as choice and quality of materials inside and out, workmanship, etc.
We have none of this for the KDC; so where does even the $28M figure come from?
We have an artist's concept and an estimate of the building's cost. We have a ballot question seeking approval of an unspecified, open ended commitment.
We have the admission by proponents and by candidates for the two open seats on the Board of Supervisors, that if and when the voters approve the tax hike, then we can start seriously studying the project, if it's needed, if it's feasible, what will be build, etc.
That may be good stewardship of the public trust. Or once again we are back to, you (stupid) voters just cough up the money and just shut up, let the adults decide, you don't need to know any specifics, you will know what you bought AFTER you bought it.
Gosh, where have we heard that before?
We all know where we've heard that kind of a line before. And we all know what to do when we hear a line like that.
Vote NO. Vote NO on CC #1.