When It Rains It Pours....
We hope everyone is safe...and dry in spite of the torrential rains we have experienced these last 2 days, and we are hopeful that those who have suffered property damage will soon have their losses recovered.
We are also hopeful that stormwater drainage problems around the city, revealed again by this event, will be dealt with appropriately and quickly. After all, the city is already collecting quite a bit of money to do just that. With the recently imposed "Stormwater" fees, in addition to "drainage" fees we were already paying, and the always increasing "sewer" rates, there should be no excuses (other than "bad management") for continuing inadequate or poor drainage.
Of course, we also contend that after approximately $80 million has been poured into our sewage system, and a 90% increase in rates over the past 6 years, there should be no room for excuses when it comes to overflows and bypasses with as little as 2" of rain, yet both are still occurring. However, it does appear that the "excuses" are wearing a bit thin when it comes to the officials at the EPA since they are now requiring photographic proof of the problems being reported as the causes of such failures.
Apparently the EPA's dissatisfaction with New Albany's progress is high enough that the portion of sewer credits slated for release at the beginning of September were ultimately denied. That's right folks. The highly touted "plan" for earning the release of additional sewer credits has failed. Funny how this piece of news seems to have slipped under the local radar and has gone largely unnoticed, or at least un-mentioned. It remains to be seen how they intend to address the issue of potential economic development for the Downtown district without sewer credits. We are even more interested to hear how they plan to issue enough credits to support the Scribner Place project. Unless they've been holding credits in reserve, this new wrinkle could threaten the entire project.
Meanwhile, the City Council has given final approval to the next budget of $16.1 million which, interestingly, includes quite a few raises despite the many fiscal crisis' the city has faced recently. While we don't want to begrudge anyone a livable wage, a suggested 33% increase for one particular employee has been perceived as a bit excessive. We also find it rather obnoxious that some others are receiving a raise when they have done nothing with their work to warrant any such type of 'reward' (ie: a non-functional Building Commissioner). Then again, should we still be getting surprised by the audacity of this administration to put personal gain over the good of the community at large? The apparent answer is a resounding "NO". Indeed, we have almost come to expect it.
What else should we be expecting?
We would like to suggest that the least we should be expecting is some accountability from those who are supposed to be in charge (why do we pay T. Toran?), and perhaps a little honest effort expended towards reigning in some exorbitant costs, such as the outrageous cell phone costs incurred by the Parks Dept., which would go a long way towards regaining some of the public trust.
Apart from these two basic expectations from our City officials, we would like for you folks to tell us what you think.
Finally, we have just a couple of things we want to say regarding the new "arrangement" the city has made with the YMCA to finance the Scribner Place project. Namely, the decision to provide financing via the Redevelopment Commission. We would like to extend our sincere thanks to CM Steve Price for standing his ground on this one by casting a "NO" vote, as he was standing our ground as well.
THANKS STEVE!!! Your dedication to fiscal responsibility is appreciated and noted.
First, we find it extremely troubling that the city has embarked on a path that unites church and state rather than keeping with accepted practices of keeping the two very, very separate from one another. For those in our community who have alternate faith beliefs, this is nothing short of a slap in the face. Taxpayers should never be forced to contribute to a faith based organization, and that's exactly what this financing deal amounts to.
Secondly, the cost of this Scribner Place project places our city well beyond our constitutional debt limits, yet they have managed to take away any possibility of a remonstrance by the taxpayers who object to this force fed "investment" into the Downtown area.
The only thing that abates our frustration is the realization that these decisions have almost certainly sealed the fate of James Garner as a one-termer. He has displayed, over and over again, a blatant disregard for propriety and a complete lack of concern for the lower economic class of voters. 'Nuff said.