Below is the statement read by Mr. John Leimone to City Council during public comment on Monday, July 24, 2017. Mr Lemoine has worked as an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
I strongly support the VPIS recommendation in the well-argued letter to you (City Council) to postpone any decision on a GMHS referendum until citizens have been thoroughly and honestly briefed on all aspects of this project, which because of the costs involved, poses an existential threat to the City’s future financial stability.
Underlying this position are at least 4 major concerns:
- The Council and City Manager have glossed over important negative comments made by Alvarez & Marsal to the Council on June 26, which call into question the reliability of the $40 million projected to be realized from sales or lease of land for economic development at the GMHS site.
- I am happy to see that Mr. Shields has added to his Power Point Presentation some information about the longer run gaps between projected revenues and projected operating expenditures. However, the serious consequences deriving from this gap need to be much more clearly explained to Citizens, and detailed policies to address it need to be transparently presented to the public before any referendum on the proposed GMHS project.
- Related to this point, neither the Council, City Manager nor School representatives have made clear what the City’s policy is on approving future development complexes with significant housing units in the next 10 years or more and the impact any such anticipated development (in addition to the GMHS site) will have on (a) school enrollment growth and its costs, (b) the nonschool operating costs of the City from further population growth and (c) additional infrastructure needs that such projects will generate.
- No attempt has been made to identify additional costs to City from tearing down the current GMHS building, new infrastructure costs that current plans will require, or the potential for cost overruns. Furthermore, although Mr. Shields has listed some risk associated with building and financing the proposed new high school, no meaningful analysis of these huge risks has been presented.
- In the interest of transparency, I call upon the Council to establish a section on the City website that makes publicly available all submitted written public comments on this or any other subject before the Council and to create a forum on the City website for citizens to address key public issues.