Mike McDonald, St. Joseph
What do a large bank, a convenience store, an assisted living facility, two veterinarian clinics, and three large apartment complexes have in common in St. Joseph?
City council members will be voting on June 15 to use all city taxes collected from those business for the next 15 years to help pay for the $2.3 million purchase of the 49-year-old former Kennedy Elementary School.
Where will the taxes come to replace the more than $100,000 in annual city taxes normally collected from these 13 businesses to support the general budget?
Why does the city feel it’s important to close a deal on the old school by Sept. 1, 2015 when ISD 742 will remain in the building (rent-free) until July of 2017?
Why has the city been so secretive regarding any details of this pending purchase?
Has the city performed a cash-flow analysis to share with citizens on how much the building will cost citizens annually?
ISD 742 stated normal annual operating costs for the building total around $160,000. Annual principal/interest payments for the bonds are likely in the $170,000 annual range.
Will the city raise the rent charged ($46,572 current annual rent) to the private day care business in order to avoid losing money?
What will be the cost to the city for the new roof that will be needed within the next five years?
How much will it cost to remodel the old building to meet the needs of a community center?
The city looked at purchasing the building in 2008 and 2012 but decided against it due to the high costs involved. What changed now?
Will a grade-school-sized gym be sufficient to handle the needs of a community center?
How was the $2.3 million value for the property arrived at?
The city’s Park Plan does not include a new park in that area of the city. Why does the city perceive the former school property is so valuable?
What specific plans does the city have for using the former grade school as a community center?
What is the projected annual programming and staff costs for a new community center?
On the surface this rushed, secretive, purchase makes little financial or logistical sense. I have asked council members, in vain, for more detailed information.
Please plan to attend the June 15 public hearing on Tax Abatement Bonding and demand the council share concrete, well-thought out plans regarding the purchase BEFORE they commit to the bonding.
When they have not done so in the recent past, the results have been very large sums of wasted taxpayer money.