Friday, 01 October 2010 00:00
The village trustees should send alternatives for St. Paul’s to a public referendum, as should every project that requires additional Garden City debt. Over the years, the village trustees Okayed over $20 million in bonded debt (including $6.8 million this year, largely for road and parking infrastructure) and roughly $105 million in future employee healthcare commitments (worse than debt because this goes up with medical cost inflation). The village trustees decided unilaterally that it was in resident’s best interest to incur these debts, but now they only may decide to give us a say on St. Paul’s?
St. Paul’s may be a unique historical building, but we believe its condition is a direct consequence of the priorities of the village trustees. The backdrop was the biggest real estate bubble in U.S. history, and Garden City could not deliver residents a reasonable plan to save St. Paul’s. This may seem odd, but it is consistent with the fact that Garden City neglected its infrastructure (roads, buildings, programs) over the last decade as our unionized employee salaries and benefits rose. Instead of scrutinizing our labor costs and efficiency, the village trustees have resorted to raising taxes, cutting infrastructure maintenance, eliminating services, and taking on debt at a now record pace. So, we probably should not be surprised that landmarks like St. Paul’s are likely beyond repair.
Just because 99 percent of Garden City residents don’t show up at the village and school board meetings, does not mean the POA-nominated trustees are excused from seeking resident’s views. We fundamentally believe Garden City would be better off today if residents were asked to vote on the now roughly $125 million in village debt/commitments. This has to be paid back through property taxes, so our position is that residents deserve full transparency and a say in the matter.