Sunday, December 26, 2010

RTA Boondoggle

So now the RTA, Rio Nuevo, TCC, and Tucson are all broke! And the only way RTA can see to get out of the hole is to borrow against the tax money they control. This is not a new story: the taxpayer funded activities around here are all wallowing in debt with little to show for it. Let's cut these bums out of control and force accountability for the use of that money.

If RTA has mismanaged and overspent, then halt the spending and put the projects on hold to join the Rio Nuevo projects in limbo. Borrowing huge sums so the same people can get their hands on the money to spend it capriciously on more inflated projects seems like an exercise in futility. The idea that projects need to be merely begun, and not funded in entirety, is a foolish way to do business. If there is any actual money left, let it be spent on public safety projects for local use. No more cross town freeways for outsiders to use: let's spend what is left on local projects hiring local people.

No more borrowing. The dollar value is cut by 40% usury charges, which creates a huge debt for this community to complete boom inspired projects. Whatever the promises were, what money that can be spent will be received as it comes in. Create an RTA fund and when that fund is large enough to proceed with completion of a project, then begin again.

The money is not there. Accept the fact and scale back operations until times get better. Fund ongoing street repairs and small projects out of the incoming revenue. Debt only delays the realization that the money is not there, it just sets taxpayers up for a deal where the money is blown now but the debt must be paid for years and years, during which time there will be no money for anything else. Now, if we can wait out the recession without debt, then times will be better much faster. It sounds like the RTA is planning on using up Pima County's credit rating to borrow huge sums. Pima County Supervisors might be interested in this angle.

I'm sorry about the jobs we are talking about here. Putting projects on hold deals with fiscal reality but real people work those jobs. The incremental funding jobs in RTA would keep some jobs, retirements could be encouraged, and attrition will account for some. I do believe that the unemployed need retraining programs tied to unemployment benefits and perhaps the unions would be interested in funding some of this.

Dorothy Prater Niemi