Elk Grove Moves Forward With Vet Center, Appropriates Design Money For Senior Center

December 11, 2014 | The first significant act of the newly formed Elk Grove City Council Wednesday night was met with an uproarious ...

December 11, 2014 |

The first significant act of the newly formed Elk Grove City Council Wednesday night was met with an uproarious round of applause from a standing-room-only audience when $2.4 million for the construction of a long-sought Veterans Center and the appropriation of $100,000 for the design of a new senior center was approved. 

The Veteran's Center, which was pursued tirelessly by former Elk Grove City Council Member Sophia Scherman over the course of her 12-year tenure, will be part of the city's long-awaited civic center. That center, which includes plans for a city hall, performing arts center, children's museum and aquatics centers is located east of Big Horn Road and south of Civic Center Drive in the city's so-called Laguna Ridge planning area. 

"This is my tenth year that I have been discussing, asking, even begging that a veterans hall be built right here in our city," Scherman said. " I was the only one that was out there of those 10 years, but in 2013 I knew that the time had come for me to come before the council."

The current senior center located on Sharkey Avenue has consistently received grant money from the city and it currently operates under a nominal lease from the Cosumnes Community Services District and is said to be at full utilization. Elk Grove currently has about 40,000 senior citizens and with the aging demographics, it is expected to be a spike in needed senior services in the coming years.

During public comment on the matter, several Elk Grove veterans spoke of the need to have a center to serve the needs of the approximately 7,200 veterans currently residing in the city. Aside from serving as a gathering site for veterans and general events hall, proponents said the facility will be used as a place to directly provide services to veterans.

"It will be a place where the healing process can begin by having open talks with their fellow brothers and sisters who have been to hell and back," Scherman added.  

Elk Grove resident and veteran Norm DeYoung rejected one idea presented by city staff construct a combination senior and veterans center saying it would lead to numerous conflicts. 

"You are going to create more problems than you solve," he said.

Speaking on behalf of the Senior Center of Elk Grove, Pat Beal said the current facility is stretched to its limits and needs will continue to grow.

"I think we need your help to continue to serve the community," Beal said.

Beal also said that both groups had unique and equally important needs that both should be addressed. 

"They have both earned that right," she said. 

During their deliberations, the council expressed their general desire to honor veterans service and the needs of growing needs of an aging population, but also expressed some concern. 

In his first meeting, District 1 City Council Member Darren Suen agreed that both populations were deserving, but sounded a note of financial caution. 

"We have only so many resources," he said.  

The idea of locating the Veterans Center at the current Senior Center was discussed but was dismissed. Assistant City Manager Becky Craig said that the Cosumnes Community Services District staff did not respond to an inquiry regarding that suggestion.

After the council unanimously approved the funding for both proposals, the large contingent of veterans in the chamber council erupted into a loud round of applause. 

"It is Christmas time after all," noted Elk Grove Mayor Gary Davis.

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Warren Buffett said...

Thank you Laguna Ridge residents for your annual tax assessment contributions that financed this! I'm sure the value of your homes will go up more than the other homes in the city, even though your tax rate is higher! Right...

Anonymous said...

Warren ~ Good point about the Laguna Ridge taxes going to pay for this project. When purchasing a home last year we specifically avoided Laguna Ridge because their Mello Roos taxes were approx $200/mo HIGHER than other areas around the city.

As for the Senior Center and Veteran's Center I think it's a great location at Civic Center park. Much better than a water park.

Sach Jones said...

$2.4 million for Vet Center, $14 million for swimming pools and who knows how much for the Senior Center. Are revenue bonds in our future?

Anonymous said...

While I agree the Veterans Center & Senior Center are much needed and projects I support, I just do not know how long we can continue to spend at this rate and remain financially viable. At this point we have millions upon millions of dollars of projects in the works and just keep adding more on top of those. Plus we still do not have our youth sports complex in the works...seems Seniors, Veterans & more came before them and they have been moved further down the list again. Sorry kids!

Maybe it's time for Laura Gill to step up to the podium again.

Connie said...

Well, "we" could sell the 100 of land "we" bought for 6.1 million dollars; pay back the drainage fee of four million and use 2.4 million for the Veteran's Center.

The room was filled with veterans last night with heartfelt testimony. I would hope that the Council, in moving forward approving $100,000 for the study, will not come back and tell these good people, "Sorry, no money!"

Capt. Benjamin L. Willard said...

Ms. Conley, I think you pointed out something important regarding the dynamics last night, particularly regarding the Veterans and Seniors, both deserving groups.

The mood appeared festive and it would have been a bad way politically for the new council to start out by denying a group that is for the most part senior citizens. Remember, seniors vote! Can you imagine if the balloon had been burst, or even deferred for another feasibility study on these items last night? The air would have sucked out of the room! Poor optics for the new council.

Nonetheless, the question remains, where is all this money coming from? If the council pushes through on Olympic sized aquatic center, the soccer field, the soccer stadium, the Veterans Hall and the Senior Center (Am I forgetting something else like road maintenance?), at some point the reserves will dry up. Can you say bonds?

Mr. Buffet, perhaps you can illuminate us more on the finances. They were barely mentioned at last night's meeting.

Anonymous said...

You're right again Mr. Buffett, Laguna Ridge is paying big time. But one thing we do have to look forward to is an ARCO station with Mini Market joining our residential neighborhood. This surely will make our property values rise. Tax rate is now approx. 1.8%. Just wait until they add those Revenue Bonds onto that and see how fast that area becomes an area of blight. A city cannot sustain forever with this spending...there comes a day of reckoning.

Jughead Jones said...

What? Gil Moore expanding to Laguna Ridge?

Warren Buffett said...

To Capt. Willard, when Laguna Ridge was approved, the developers did not want to front the cost of infrastructure, police protection, streets, sewers, drainage, civic center improvements, etc. So the city floated bonds to cover these costs. As the developers sell each home, those 30 year bond payments are transferred to the homeowners and are tacked onto their annual property tax bills, plus there is an annual inflation increase allowed (which the city has naturally assessed). As a result, the total tax rate to those residents is much higher (and climbing) than other areas of the city, and savvy buyers will be comparing the tax rates when shopping for a home. Watch out if inflation picks up in the years ahead. The Laguna Ridge area covers a wide swath of land and includes most of the homes being built today and within the past 8 years or so. In more sophisticated areas, the developers are aware that saddling their new homes with all these assessments puts them at a competitive disadvantage, but the buyers just don't seem to care I guess. Give it time, especially when inflation kicks up!

Capt. Benjamin L. Willard said...

Mr. Buffet, thank you for that detailed explanation. I consider myself fairly well informed on city matters but until now didn't understand the financing mechanism.

I am not sure what all the implications are, but I think you are right, the people in that area are being saddled with the costs. What exactly the unintended consequences are only time will tell, but you have to guess they are not going to be pleasant.

Anonymous said...

Warren ~ Thanks for calling Anon 8:06 a savvy buyer. That's me!

I did my research when buying and figured I could spend an additional $40-50k on a bigger/nicer home in another area and have the same payment. It makes me wonder how well the area will age in years to come???

Jughead Jones said...

Anon 8:06 & 10:47....$200 a month more in property taxes! Wow, that's a lot of milkshakes!

Anon 8:06 & 10:47 said...

Jughead ~ In about 5 minutes you can check on the Sac County Assessor's website. It's all public record.

I pulled up a random home on Kugler Way in Laguna Ridge (Just south of Civic Center Drive). The direct levy portion of their tax bill was $3,143.14/yr. In East Elk Grove near PGHS my direct levy's are only $560.74/yr. That's a difference of $2,582.40per year which is $215.20 per month!!!

For those that don't understand how property taxes work you pay approx 1% of your homes assessed value plus direct levy's (Mello Roos, EGUSD, water, and lighting taxes). The total bill for this house in Laguna Ridge was over $6,500/yr.

I post as Anon as I like to keep myself off the radar a little bit.

Anonymous said...

We, Elk Grove, have now gone down in history as "THE UNFINISHED". The town with the highest concentration of unfinished projects! Guess what usually follows that scenario?

Anonymous said...

It's called the shotgun approach to city leadership--just throw stuff at the wall and see what sticks!

Lynn said...

Sure wish that the meetings could be packed like that all the time and especially during the "budget discussions".
Hey they are politicians; tell people what they want to hear....does not mean you have to follow through and most certainly none of the projects will happen without revenue bonds..this council is approving and spending beyond their means. But than I just like to complain....
I once said the city leaders suffer from ADHD....they still do!

Elk Grove "Developer's Delight"
Town built on "overriding considerations"

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