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Minimizing Future Regret

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Recently, the city revealed some of the planning for the new sports complex proposed for West Lawrence. We are assured this is a good deal. I have no reason to doubt the intentions of our lawgivers but I have a nagging concern.

I have not seen any form of prioritized long range plan for major infrastructure investments by local governments. I have heard the city is working to produce such an effort but in its absence just exactly what are we deferring or worse what will require major funding in addition to this effort.

I am aware of a possible shortfall in our public safety infrastructure. There are unfulfilled needs for our mental health services. Our overall existing infrastructure is in need of repair and replacement. We have committed to a number of shared investments such as the restoration of the farmland property. There could be more – much more!

Additionally our school district could be facing a need for major resources in addition to the evolving capital plan if our governor is successful in pushing school funding down to the local level. Our city and county may be forced into significant resource expenditures to replace social services no longer provided by leaner state expenditures.

It would seem to me that the real responsibility of the city leadership is not to “sell” the benefits of the sports complex but to assure the citizenry that they have considered all reasonable future needs and have determined this is the best project to fund near term.

More importantly, assurances should be provided that we are not creating a major future obligation that will drive property taxes (already among the highest in the state) to levels causing real pain for our homeowners.

Just because there is an existing funding stream does not in any way support this project avoiding priority consideration. That money can be redirected by the electorate to any number of needs.

The magnitude of the proposed investment and the lack of visibility into what resources our local governments may need for the complete project and for future public needs suggest that as a minimum this project be submitted to the public accompanied by an initial effort at a long range investment plan. April 2013 seems a good point to address such a major investment commitment in a collaborative manner.

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