Could Scope, Fate of Elk Grove Aquatics Center Be in Councilman Suen's Hands?

January 12, 2016 |

If Elk Grove continues to pursue its world-class aquatics center, a more modest version or an outright elimination of the project, the fate could lie in the hands of freshman Councilman Darren Suen.

The proposed Elk Grove Civic Center aquatics center, which Mayor Gary Davis has repeatedly said was a "go" to the throngs of swim-moms and their kids he packed city council chambers with, now has a less certain future. After plans to develop the center that would include a 10-meter dive platform and Olympic-sized competitive pool met the reality there is not enough money to build it, Elk Grove City Councilmen may decide its fate tomorrow night.

On one side of the discussion will be Davis and his protege councilman, Steve Ly. Although Davis and Ly may face the reality there is not enough cash in the till to pay for the platinum pool plan, it is likely they will nonetheless push for a silver, if not gold plan, regardless of the hundreds-of-thousands, if not millions of taxpayer dollars to subsidize annual operating costs.

On the other side is Councilmen Steve Detrick and Pat Hume. Both councilmen, who positioned themselves as the council's adults-in-the-room regarding this and other discretionary projects, have repeatedly said the annual operating cost must be "revenue neutral." Put another way, they would not support the project if it were operated at any annual loss. 

From the consultant's report generated for Elk Grove, it is clear that even a modest aquatics center will operate at an annual loss costing Elk Grove taxpayers hundreds-of-thousands-of-dollars.  Given these less than rosy projections, how will Detrick and Hume react? 

Will they agree to a smaller facility even with projected losses and break their "revenue neutral" promises? For the sake of argument, let's say they are stand-up guys, stick to their guns and object to any project that is not revenue neutral.

If Detrick and Hume remain stand-up guys and Davis and Ly take a damn-the-torpedoes-full-speed-ahead philosophy, the decision could rest in the hands of Suen. For Suen, this means he may well become the swing-person, whether he wants it or not, and cast the deciding vote. 

Does he join the self-proclaimed adults-in-the-room duo, who happen to be Republicans, or does he stay loyal to his Democratic brethren, Davis and Ly, and join them to build the aquatics center regardless of costs? While some compromise allowing each side to save face could be worked out - or, of course, they could again defer a decision that is typical for this council - for Suen, this is a decision that could have far-ranging effects.


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Warren Buffett said...

It seems like the staff report leaves an opening to carry a short-term deficit until future growth and Mello-Roos assessments can catch up. Reyling on future growth to pay for current projects--the hallmark of a Ponzi scheme!

Anonymous said...

IMO, Steve Detrick's word is only as good as the last contribution check he got. How much money did he cajole out of Fabian Nunez this time? Second payment of $2,500 perhaps?

Anonymous said...

Warren I suppose you are right about using Mello Roos fees for constructions of these various projects. Can they also use the Mello Roos fees to cover operating shortages on say the swimming pools or soccer fields? Seems to be a very risky proposition.

Anonymous said...

Holy Sh*t we've got a problem on our hands. You're right is a Ponzi scheme. That should scare the crap out of every taxpayer in this city.

Fran Talkington said...

This article should be right on if Detrick and Hume stick to their statements. However, money talks and if anyone has any money to keep this project afloat Detrick has a long track record of being bought like a cheap hooker. A vote for sale for sure.

Suen has been a follower his time to date on the dais. This is his chance to stand on his own and do what is best for his constituency and not his mayor's personal agenda. Will he have the fortitude to vote for the city and citizens best interests over his mayor's?

Can he stand on his own two feet and vote what he knows is in the city's best interests or will he continue to be Davis' puppet?

Steve L said...

Should Mr. Detrick keep his word, this article points out the obvious. The deciding vote will be Councilman Suen's.

I'm truly hoping that he is ready to step out on his own and assert his intellect and common sense. He needs to show the citizens that he has a mind of his own and is smart enough to see that this project is a money pit that the city just doesn't need right now.

He's been a staunch follower of the mayor's to date. At some point he needs to speak for himself and those he represents, damn the mayor's personal views.

C'mon Darren, you can do this.

Anonymous said...

Elk Grove; Stockton North

Look at how their hairbrained projects resulted in bankrupting their city.

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