Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tucson Employment or more Unemployment and debt?

So I learned much about this city since returning here a few years ago. Ready to compare with what I had seen in other communities to my hometown, I engaged in political activity, mainly in the form of attending political functions and listening.

Factions have been squabbling over the spoils from the failed Rio Nuevo projects and very few have taken money from the many and then given to favorites. Too much money has been spent on too little. A few made big bucks and too many are unemployed.

The latest boondoggle is to buy streetcars from Oregon, putting them to work while our own people are unemployed. And they want to borrow money to do it, laying heavy amounts of debt service on Arizona people in order to hire people in Oregon to build streetcars we don't need.

Adding more debt to the public load already in place is foolish in this economic climate. Rio Nuevo is $2,000,000 in deficit a year, owing that much more than they bring in while they feverishly try to set up yet another debt for the city to guarantee to build a hotel downtown. Occupancy rates downtown are about 50%, which is too low for another hotel to be built. Can you believe Shelko wants to borrow money, hold enough to make payments for x years and is planning on a high occupancy rate to pay for the hotel? What are the occupancy rates right now? What is the intake of the TIF revenue right now? What is the present take of TCC? We need a dose of reality.

The city is $33,000,000 in deficit but just borrowed more money to build a building when empty buildings stand all over town. This new debt adds to the debt load.

Now an 'emergency' meeting was called to bring RTA into the money pit downtown in order to adequately fund this modern streetcar project. A huge portion of this money will not bring jobs to Tucson, except in the form of benefit to the few merchants along the very short route and the developer at the end of it. How much of this proposed debt, the federal grant and the city and RTA contributions will actually stay here to fund local jobs?

What percent is debt service? Sales tax revenue is not predictable as a revenue source when compared to the steady drain of debt service on the local economy.

What percent will be spent in Oregon on streetcars built by people who boycott us?

We do not need this project. We already have roads to all of these places. Let's use them.

We need small scale local jobs funded without debt. Instead of a giant museum all at once, we build a wing.