Public Comment

Measure C-3rd grade math doesn't add up for this bond measure

By Justin Lee
Monday May 17, 2010 - 02:42:00 PM

After getting the pro- Measure C flyer (I use the pools and would gladly pay for them if it’s presented correctly) I came up with this: 

-there are 45000 households 

-each household would pay on average 70 dollars according to flyer literature. 

-45,000 households times 70 times 30 years=94,500,000 million dollars TOTAL for principle and the bond“loan” 

-The renovations are slated to cost about 25 million for all 4 pools. That’s to fix them 

-The pool maintenance is slated to be just under a million a year(that’s the city’s numbers) 

-At worst that’s 30,000,000 over 30 years for running the pools. A million a year seems reasonable. 

-30 mill + 25 mill=55 million total maintenance for 30 years plus 25 for renovation capital costs. 

-Why is the City paying 40 million in INTEREST payments. Who gets that? 

-We are paying @1.3 million in interest a year! 

Now, the proper way to float this bond is ask for 25 million in bonds to the building costs as we need that now. Like a new roof, the city needs up front construction funds. 

-Next tax households in perpetuity for the maintenance. 

-Why are we bonding 30 million in salaries and maintenance costs. What happens after 30 years? Another bond measure to borrow. This is called rolling debt. 

-The pool looks like it is costing near double the real costs because the politicians think that debt and bonds and credit are free. But that 40 million could be used for libraries and other things. The costs of running these facilities are doubling because the city has to go to the piggy trough and beg corrupt banks for a loan when it’s not a capital improvement cost it’s an ONGOING expense. This is flat out cowardice on the mayor and board’s part. 

-Where did the bid for 25 million come from? A home pool averages $60,000 to build-heated and all. Berkeley pools are not Olympic pools, so where does $5 million a pool come from? Renovations to pools and houses seem really, really steep to me. 

-If pool are so integral to the fabric of the City, then it’s time to ask that the cost of running pools comes as a tax in perpetuity. Making it part of a 30 year bond measure does not make this cheaper. In the end it costs us near double because we are borrowing instead of taxing. Berkeley has proven to be quite generous when the taxes are used for the intended purpose. 

What I fear is that the City will get 100 million in bond money up front to plug up holes in the City’s 11 million annual deficit(pension obligations,entitlements and salaries) and it will renege on much of the pool-allocated money in the near future-and ask for more. It’s a kick-the-can-down-the-alley approach. I see Mayor Bates and the Council praying the big bond check carries the city far enough into the future where there is a Goldilocks economy and higher revenues. Counting on that and fighting a debt burden with more debt burden sounds like a strategy right out of Greece’s playbook. 

-Justin Lee