Monday, September 21, 2009

20 Million Dollar Boondoggle?

The Town of South Padre has about 17,000 tax paying accounts for property taxes, about 6,000 inhabitants on average, something like 2,500 legal residents, and about 900 voters. Yet we want to vote yes or no about a tax bond this Election Day in the amount of 20 million dollars. Whoa, that's a lot of debt per capita there.

The reason for the bonds is three-fold. One would be to do something on Padre Boulevard, the main drag, although we're not sure what. Another would be to redesign Gulf Boulevard, the street by the ocean of course. And the third would be for a "town square" concept with an old church and maybe a new fire station.

There is no information that I could find on the town website, not anything in the "document center." Not even a notice about upcoming elections in the November Election Day polls, which includes a constitutional amendment for preserving the Texas Open Beaches Act and adopting Home Rule. I still can't find anything about a bond election. What happened? This is big stuff.

According to what I can tell, some bond attorney or consultant said we could safely borrow up to 16 million on the "muni" bond market, and then raised it to 18 and then 20 million dollars. So I guess we're borrowing money just because we can. But what the heck are we going to spend it on? We are paying interest on that money, possibly 3 percent or so, which comes out to ... hundreds of thousands of dollars over 15 years.

The feeling I get is that of the three options to vote for, the Gulf Boulevard option is a lame duck and might fail. It was half-baked, no real plan, and definitely work in progress by a consultant and committee.

The town square idea might pass, but if it does not, we'll have to find a place to build a new fire station with that grant money and "Obama stim." Really, the concept of a town square is pretty stupid, it's just a large, shabby deconsecreated church and parking lot, not something that could become a cool town square like up in New England, or even Georgetown, Texas (a nice one).

Then there's the Big One, Padre Boulevard. I can't figure out what the heck the Aldermen intend to do there. One thing I heard was to replace all the wooden electric poles with concrete ones. Does that sound silly to you too? Maybe there's some big vision with lots of money from Texas Department of Transportation, but I'm clueless here. Yes it's true, we don't even own the roadway and only control slivers of land where the sidewalks are. Amazing. I'd like to see exactly where I'm spending all my money.

Being how it is the third week in September, not too long until November Election Day in the first week, I can only wonder what is going on. In comparison, the last bond elections for the municipal center and birding center were 5 to 7 million each, and widely spaced apart; the taxpayers didn't even have to repay the birding center, which was funded by a local sales tax for the Economic Development Board. May I add that the bond for the muni center became outright war, and there are bad feeling to this very day because of it. So here we have 20 million dollars on the table to be voted up or down ... and there's nothing there.

It's like people want this to fail, or perhaps the bond election is languishing for lack or attention. But I don't understand it. If I can't be convinced, I am behooved to vot "No" because lack of a vote cold mean "Yes." Remember, there are only 900 voters and I suspect only 700 or so will even show up, at best, since there are no local board of aldermen elections.

I have an open mind, so if anybody has a clue please let us know.


Lucinda said...

Call me a "cavewoman" but I am feeling pretty negative about this as well. I simply don't see anything in our current leadership situation that tells me they can be entrusted with that kind of money.

Anonymous said...

First of all I cant thinik of anything which would improve Gulf Blvd. Most of the problems stem from parking which is owned by the tower condos along the blvd. There is absolutly nothing that requires bond money along Gulf Blvd. Padre Blvd is what it is, the majority of the problems with Padre Blvd is the upkeep of private property and very little the town could do to fix this. Concrete power poles.........when did this become the islands issue. $20,000,000.00 is way out of line for our island. Half that would be adequate and most of that would be wasted in some way. As to the new fire station. I say build another one north or south of the present one and remodel the old one and staff it with a smaller crew. Its center island location is best suited for water rescue team and EMS service. As the town grows to the north we will have to have a new fire station up that way so why not think about it now. The island is currently large enough for two stations. Like you said, I think they are borrowing money because they can.

Anonymous said...

Gulf needs some remodeling (a real sidewalk and a bike lane), but voters deserve to know exactly what they are buying. Padre needs an expansion of the landscaped medians, sidewalks, elimination of roll over sidewalks and more palms along it sides, but again, voters need to be told exactly what they are buying.