Opinion - The Elk Grove City Council Wish List: Is the Council Being Fiscally Responsible?

By Connie Conley | January 24, 2015 | UPDATED 4 p.m. Why the sudden rush?  The city hasn’t even broken ground on the approved aqu...


By Connie Conley | January 24, 2015 |

UPDATED 4 p.m.

Why the sudden rush?  The city hasn’t even broken ground on the approved aquatics center.  And less we forget that 3P International defaulted on the contract to secure financing for said aquatics center. 

However, P3 certainly took their portion of the $700,000 feasibility study also approved by the Council.  The specific question of default was asked of City Attorney Jon Hobbs, and yet the Council did nothing to hold them accountable.  I would think if a contactor defaulted there would be some refund to the city.  Wouldn’t that be good business practices?

Is the aquatics center even fully funded?   The city is putting up $14 million dollars; yet much more is needed.  That question has not been answered.  As it is, the Council borrowed money from another fund to purchase the land for the proposed soccer stadium.  Will the Council have to “borrow” money to pay down that debt as well?  That is like taking a mortgage out on a new home that you cannot afford and then taking out a second mortgage to make the principal and interest payments that you cannot afford to make.

Many of us have been advocating for a youth soccer complex since 2004; however, that was pushed aside when Mayor Gary Davis put forth an aquatics center instead, and the rest of the Council agreed.    

Back in 2004, and when our group held a youth sports complex town hall meeting in 2011, a soccer stadium was never part of the original public discussion as living within our means was always at the forefront.  Residents weren’t blind to what had occurred in Stockton and other cities that fund grandiose stadiums that have left cities on the road to financial ruin.

Wouldn’t it be fiscally responsible for the Council to get that multimillion dollar aquatics center funded, built and in operation before taking on a $117 million dollar venture?  At this point, we don’t even know how much of a dip in the general fund the aquatics center is going to take each year.  It is a fact that cities’ aquatics centers lose money.  One Google search will tell you that.

Additionally, there is an agenda item regarding the animal shelter at the same meeting.  Where is the funding for that as well?  City Government 101, critical city services such as bus transit and animal shelters run at a loss.  They are not meant and never will be, revenue generators for any city, including Elk Grove.  As it is, the Council has already cut some bus services, have you not?

Not to mention the room full of Veterans at the council meeting right before Christmas, who were promised their Veterans’ Hall.  Furthermore, the Elk Grove Police Department Union contract is up for renegotiation in the near future.  Didn’t the Council just say they would like to expand our police department at the last meeting after Chief of Police Bob Lehner gave his annual report?

And I also forgot that in the very near future, most of our roads will need to be resurfaced.  How much did Public Works Director Richard Shepard tell the Council will we need, ten million dollars?  Cities with well paved roads are desirable ones for future economic development. And closer to home in the rural area, Waterman Road is waiting!  Luxury homes are going in at Sheldon and Waterman.  I am sure those new residents spending upwards to $400K for a house on two acres at Sheldon and Waterman Roads will want nicely paved streets.  Wouldn't you?

The City of Elk Grove’s budget meetings are coming up next week.  Staff will probably bring out that dollar bill poster.  Remember that very tiny slice that goes to the city of Elk Grove?  We are at least 10 years out from paying off the county of Sacramento for cityhood; so getting a bigger slice of that dollar bill is years away.

The Council cannot think they can just pass revenue bonds and think the people paying for them, not to mention the risk of putting our city in a future bankruptcy, would mind. 

Bottom line, if the taxpayers are going to be held responsible for the enormous debt on all of these projects, then we should decide if we want to take the risk.  Long-term debt in the hundreds of millions is not a risk the Council should take on themselves.  A vote of the people is a must!

In closing, with all these projects on the “wish list,” the Council needs to respond to their constituents:  Is this being fiscally responsible regarding the people’s money and for the overall future of Elk Grove?

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15 comments

Anonymous said...

Elk Grove citizens your call to arms has passed. As you continue to be asleep at the wheel our council members and their inflated egos are leading us to financial ruin with their grandiose plans. When are the citizens going to wake up and start attending these meetings and stop this train wreck. I have spent so many hours at the meetings with barely anyone in attendance but yet all people do is complain after the fact.
Our New city Motto is "Elk Grove, the city that wastes city revenue to accomplish a big fat ZERO".

Surprising.....NOT said...

I'm surprised you haven't figured it out yet.....the citizens don't matter. It's all about what the council, or individual council members want, and what benefits themselves the most.

What is it about EG? Two appointed councilpersons shoved down our throats. No democratic process. The school board is about to do the same thing. God forbid we get Sophie!

Animal shelter? Yeah, go ahead. It doesn't matter if there is no money....just cut transportation services. Paratransit services? Who cares?! And those pesky workers traveling downtown to work, well they can take their own vehicle....or get a job in EG. Yeah, right.

Three more years, three more years....

Connie said...

The above was submitted as public comment to the Elk Grove City Council for next Wednesday’s meeting, and also as an Op Ed in response to EGN’s article entitled, "Elk Grove Unveils Pro Soccer Stadium Plans: Will Seek Annexation of Grant Line Road Site,” which is why it began, and is written, the way it is.

After I submitted it, I remembered that public works, in their last report, also reported out that most our streets will be in need of repaving in the near future. I believe the projected cost is 10 million dollars. And, of course, there is no money.

As far as the comment I should know better, people must speak up because government is at its worst when you have apathy from its citizens. How many residents can tell you the name of their respective council member?

If we sit and do nothing, then we are all to blame as well.

Anonymous said...

Referendums and recalls are just a petition away!

Anonymous said...

At the rate our electeds are going we're going to end up like that old Chicago tactic known as "scoop and toss". Delaying all those bond payments by refinancing old debts and extending payments far into the future. We are not a wealthy city and cannot spend irresponsibily. It's time...actually past time to rein this group in.

Anonymous said...

Stockton

Vallejo

San Bernardino

Detroit

Lynn said...

Connie; nicely written!
I keep saying it and have for years: Corrupt as Bell, Bankrupt as Vallejo!

Anonymous said...

How can Elk Grove's remote site ever be compared to the site in Sacramento's Railyard?

How much money is being spent on staff time and spent on expensive outside attorneys and consultants?

Steve L said...

Our city council is so out of touch with reality. All of these projects take millions of dollars to finance and maintain. Unfortunately, we have limited monies to finance these projects. If the council issues revenue bonds to pay for ANY of these without allowing the citizens to vote on it, they will nailing their own political coffins.

yes, people are generally apathetic when it comes to government, but when you start taxing them on items they don't support, people will wake up and hold those people who approved the bonds accountable.

Admiral Yamamoto said it best after the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, "I'm afraid all we have done is to wake a sleeping giant."

Do Davis and the musketeers really want to wake the sleeping giant know as the apathetic Elk Grove citizenry?

We know what this type of spending has done to cities like Stockton. We will not allow this to happen in our city. If it does, heads will roll and the legacies of those responsible will not be pretty.

Anonymous said...

Kudos Ms. Connie, you hit it head-on!

It would be my hope that some cooler & smarter heads would prevail at this weeks council meeting. Hopefully as a beginning we can finish just one project before moving on to another costly one. Perhaps some of our council attending some Budget 101 classes would assist them in this process or just maybe...our newer council members will have some words of wisdom. It's obvious we cannot maintain the current status quo.

Connie said...

Thank you for the comments, but the reality is it is sad it has come to this point. We had such high hopes for those Council members whom we worked so hard to elect; all the blood, sweat and tears!

But being one never to give up, trying to reach the Council with logic and reason, and hoping there is at least one brave mind up there who puts a stop to this spending nonsense before it is too late.

So I am going back to when a current Council member was first running for the Council and addressed the original Council on “Median-gate.” He said, “It is time to stop focusing on being right and focus on doing right!”

Anonymous said...

This is making the city a regional joke.

Anonymous said...

I believe California has rules in place to safeguard taxpayers money. Are those being observed in Elk Grove? I believe that a city's financial controls are not that different from how you might run your own household finances. You have to balance your checkbook and understand how much cash you have in place.

Of course most of us know that the most effective check on local officials is for the public to get more involved in their city and local governments, to ask questions and insist on answers. Of course that is not happening and our officials are preying on that at OUR expense. Kids want a swimming pool & fields for sports, Veterans & Seniors want a hall for meetings, etc., etc. Where does the city take us...Olympics & MLS are two examples. That wasn't what the citizens wanted...that's la la land for communities with much bigger wallets than ours. What we have is a lack of oversight, and a failure of oversight among the various parties that should be providing oversight. JMHO and I'm stickin' to it....

Anonymous said...

THERE IS NO GIANT!!! THEY ARE ALL DEAD!!!

All Elk Grove voters are all DEAD! Let them die in peace. DEMOCRACY is DEAD in ELK GROVE.

If Elk Grove voters cared just a bit, they could STILL force a special election for Darin Suen's position. Read the fine print!

On another note, force a special election for the vacant school board position also. You will get 2 for 1 special from the County of Voter Reg. office.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget the FC Elk Grove youth soccer group that is tied in with the City Council and CSD. In fact, FC Elk Grove hired Adam Smith as Director of the youth soccer club, he just happens to be a coach with the Sac Republic and the son of their Technical Director. It's all planned out in the background. The FC Elk Grove soccer group is even suing a new rec soccer group from playing in Elk Grove so they will not have any competition and further claim that they have 6,500 (very inflated) youth players, which is another foundation the city is pushing in partnership with the FC Elk Grove soccer group.

BTW- Teams do not travel from across the country to play in local tournaments in Elk Grove, as the Mayor stated, the soccer club actually hosts low-level tournaments that can't even get bay area teams to attend:

"Elk Grove is also a hotbed of youth soccer – about 6,500 youths play soccer in the city, and teams from across the country travel there to compete in tournaments, Davis said. He said a complex will meet that demand and send a message to MLS."

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