We were going to look at the funding sources for this thing, in this part, but first, let's take a look at some past comments by Urban Renewal about spending all that tax money on this project.
Here are some excerpts from Urban Renewal meetings about the Tabares/Plaza building:
During the July 8, 2010 Urban Renewal meeting, the Structural Assessment from Slaterpaull Architects on the Plaza Building was accepted by the board. The assessment had already been accepted by the State Historical Society. At that meeting, Lynn Horner stated: "If it turns out to be a two million dollars project I am in agreement that I don’t want to spend two million dollars on it."
But the board had just accepted the findings of the Slaterpaull assessment ... which had a price tag of $2.1 million. So clearly, it's a 'two million dollars project.'
At that same meeting, Mayor Rizzuto stated: If Urban Renewal has to put any money into it you are talking about grant money. With a two million dollar project that would require a 20% match. We need to get an attorney opinion on what the procedure should be. We have a fiduciary responsibility for Urban Renewal money on what we can do with those funds. We don’t want to overstep our bounds within the comprehensive plan. We need to follow all the laws involving Urban Renwal and make sure of our full responsibility for projects like this. This seems out of the realm of Urban Renewal where it has been more of a blight removal thing. If we are going to do something different that is ok as long as we are following state statutes and are on with the comprehensive plan. If it is not in the comprehensive plan my belief is to change the comprehensive plan and then it has to go to City Council and hold a public hearing. If this project is 1.5 million dollars or 2.2 million dollars if you figure up the square footage it comes to over $300 per sq. foot for the building. Without the basement it is $600 per square foot. That is totally ridiculous to spend that much with tax money. At that point it is time to put in the ground.
From the September 9, 2010 Urban Renewal Meeting:
Discussion on the Plaza building:
Chairman Horner: Has Rick had any communications or discussion with the realtors on the Plaza Building for feedback on price?
Bill Jackson: We didn’t get much feedback. They didn’t have much interest in doing this.
Chairman Horner: As a Board we need to decide if we still want to pursue putting it up for sale. One of the things we could do is put signs in the window and see if we get any response.
Bill Jackson: Do you just want to pick a realtor or do you want to put it for sale with the City’s number as contact?
Rebecca Goodwin: I don’t think we want to pay 7% commission to a realtor.
Nancy Bennett: If the realtors are not interested I don’t see whey we should give them the business. (Note from BloggerCentral: If the realtors are not interested, there is a reason for that - it's because there isn't any business. Is that such a difficult concept to grasp?)
Roger Roath: Can we just put a sign with the City number and if there is no interest we need to look at getting a grant to tear it down.
Mack Burtis: There won’t be any quick sale with the way it looks. Do you really expect anybody to want it? The next question is what are you asking for it? We don’t have an answer for that. I think we are up against the question whether this group has any use for this building that we want to pursue. We can put the sign in the building but I am not going to hold my breath.
Chairman Horner: I agree but we don’t know if there will be any interest unless we do something. A couple of years ago Becky and I talked to some groups that were interested at that time. We would like to revisit with them to see if they are still interested in doing something.
Rebecca Goodwin: There was some potential use for it then. There are some companies that demolish historic buildings for the materials. Maybe they could be contacted and see if there is any that might be interested. The tin roof and molding are reusable. That is another option.
Nancy Bennett: That would be more sensible.
Rebecca Goodwin: It makes more sense than tearing it down for trash. There is a chance to get some potential money back. I can check with some companies that do historic rehabs that are looking for that type of materials.
And here is the best line yet, from Mayor Rizzuto: "I still don’t feel comfortable with taxing the residents of La Junta to have somebody else’s property fixed up."
So why are we still screwing around with this, talking about pouring at least $1.3 million in tax dollars and free money from some non-profits - not much relative to the tax bucks - into this thing? Although Urban Renewal is looking at 20% or so in matching funds ... the bulk of the money comes from grants from government agencies. That is tax revenue the city has taken from Smile Hi property owners, and that the state has taken from someone else - and those 'someone elses' are just like you and me.
OK, next, we'll look at the funding sources.