Westside Pool, How Your Money Gets Played

shellgame-13jan15Much has been said and written about the overwhelming voter support for the 2012 Quality of Life bonds. The local newspaper’s editorials love to point out how the voters voted for the projects that are leading to higher taxes being imposed on the taxpayers of the community. Last week when I wrote about the land swap for the Rescue Mission, some of you chastised me for not understanding that this is what the community wanted. Likewise, the politicians are happily proclaiming the success of the $13 million for the Westside pool forgetting the numbers games that each had a part in.

The problem with the shell games routinely played by politicians with money is that the end result always ends up costing the taxpayers of the city more than originally intended. As if that was not bad enough, the money games also results in disappearing projects. On one hand, the politicians point to the voter support for the expenditure of monies yet completely ignore the fact that it is likely some people voted for the parks that have now been eliminated.

Unfortunately, it gets even worse in that the malfeasance within the ranks of the city that resulted in the shortfall for the money needed to build the pool is completely ignored by the people playing games with your money. Individuals that are paid, through the taxes you are paying, put together a plan to build a pool and affixed a price tag to that. Whether the pool plan did not reflect the wants and needs of the community or that there is a larger need is immaterial because the end result is that the pool budget is wrong. Someone did not do their job.

Therefore, the question is where is the accountability? Who is responsible for the need to reallocate funds to a pool that was voted on?

Unfortunately, the issue continues to get worse in that not only are two parks that were allocated in the voter-approved bonds have now disappeared but there is the very likelihood that the pool will result in the need to issue $1.8 million on Certificates of Obligations. These are debt issued by the city that does not require voter approval and results in higher taxes for the taxpayers. I fully expect Bob Moore’s publication to completely ignore this inconvenient reality in his editorials.

Furthermore, the politicians almost always argue that that the “voters approved it” and we are “obligated to the voters” but when convenient two parks that the voters approved are somehow no longer required. Why is that? Who made the determination that the voters want the pool over the parks? Is every constituent a swimmer? Unlikely but somehow the parks are no longer important.

On Monday, the city manager was tasked with providing city council with financial modeling for the rollout of the pending projects for the Quality of Life deliverables. However, while at the same time as this is ongoing, city council is making decisions on going over budget on one project. Again, where is the accountability?

Certain projects are being fast-tracked, their budgets significantly increased and taxpayer monies being committed while at the same time the plans to pay the bills have not been adopted. Basically, city council is spending monies without a plan on how to pay for the expenditures. They are writing checks from an empty check book. Last time I checked, that was a crime. But hey, the local cheerleader paper isn’t about to call them on it. It is, after all, beneficial to too many advertisers in the community to have money going to their check books.

Of the full scope of the Quality of Life projects, the pool is a small component yet it has already resulted in significant changes to the costs to the taxpayers and the elimination of portions of the projects that were promised. All of this was acted upon by city council without a financial model explaining how they will be funded. Now what do you think is going to happen when the financial model is presented to them by the city manager?

Taxes are going to rise as surely as Bob Moore will write about how wonderful city council is in making El Paso a better place.

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