Double Standards Reveal Cracks in Downtown Policy

Back in November, I wrote a post about Prince Charles Holdings’ request for more money for the parking deck that they are still building in downtown Fayetteville. I predicted the Fayetteville City Council and the Mayor would fund the company’s request. They did. I ended the post this way:

When they ask for more money in a few months, I’ll change some numbers around and re-post this article.

https://crosscreekdivide.com/2019/11/21/1-4-million-more-tax-dollars-downtown-parking-deck/

Well, Prince Charles Holdings has asked for more money. This is about the fifth time they’ve done so. It’s not as much a fulfilled prediction as it is clock-work at this point.

But the details of tonight’s City Council Agenda and exactly how they are going about the latest increase has me riled up. So you get about the 15th parking-deck-post on this site. My apologies in advance…

Investment Income

Apparently, the City of Fayetteville earns interest on the millions of dollars in bond money we borrowed to finance the baseball stadium and purchase the parking deck downtown.

All of the money we borrowed hasn’t been spent, yet, in part because Prince Charles Holdings can’t seem to finish the deck on schedule. It was supposed to be finished in October, and we don’t have to pay for it until it is finished, so the millions we borrowed to pay for it are presumably sitting in an account somewhere, earning interest. Apparently, we’re earning a lot of interest: $189,063 to this date, according to the city’s numbers.

“Great!,” you might think to yourself. “The city’s at least getting some money back. We can use that to offset the cost of the project and save the taxpayers some money!”

But…

…then the powerful forces of the Fayetteville bureaucracy go to work, and suddenly it’s not so great anymore.

Instead of giving this investment income back to the taxpayers or using it to lower the principal on the debt the taxpayers owe, our City Council and city managers want to give all of it to Prince Charles Holdings. They will vote to do so, tonight.

Are you even surprised anymore? Yeah, me neither.

Keep in mind that the initial cost for this deck was 7 Million Dollars. It’s now pushing 18 Million. 2.9 Million is being transferred out of the general fund to cover the overage. This means that other city services will have to be cut if we don’t raise taxes.

Segra Stadium Standards

Perhaps we could have used some of that $186,095 to offset the cost of our new baseball stadium which is also over-budget? But that’s too easy and too obvious.

Today, the Observer published an article stating that our new stadium already has cracks and water leaks. Fayetteville has hired an engineer to analyze and document the defects. This is a good thing. It’s smart government. Why? Fayetteville is battling with the contractor, Barton Malow, over the total cost of the project. Fayetteville can now use these structural defects as leverage to negotiate the final cost of the project and save the taxpayers money.

This is responsible city management. This is how it’s supposed to work.

So why the double-standard?

Despite the fact that our leaders sold the parking deck and the stadium as a package deal, they now refuse to treat these projects the same way even though it is in the city’s interest to do so. It’s baffling, really.

I don’t know who invested in Prince Charles Holdings. It’s not public record by the way, and the city won’t tell us. I do know that they are very powerful behind the curtain.

Image result for wizard of oz curtain gif

Do you know of any other entity that is treated this way by the City of Fayetteville? City management goes out of its way to enrich these people. Our elected leaders gladly vote “yes” to repeated cost increases and waive penalties for missing construction deadlines.

Several months ago, Mayor Colvin had an apt analogy when Prince Charles Holdings asked for more money for the deck:

I actually agree with him. Any bank would keep the interest that it makes on its own money for itself.

We’ll just give it away.

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