At a recent public meeting there was discussion about the city council’s possible intentions to issue taxpayer-backed bonds to build a big sports complex north of town on industrial development land.
There is some discrepancy in connection with the council’s intentions. (This council is not known for its willingness to share the decision-making process with the taxpayers who pay the bills.)
We hope the council will exhibit heretofore absent fiscal discipline and take time to examine all the finances involved in this project before jumping into more debt, like they did on the senior citizens’ complex.
We are not necessarily opposed to the sports project, although there is considerable disadvantage to putting it on land intended for and needed for industrial
development, rather at an alternate location below the dam. (Mayor Billy Collins says the project, if it comes to fruition, is slated for the dam location. We will discuss this further in Tuesday’s edition.)
At any rate, taxpayers have a right to know:
- Has the council informally agreed to build the project as was recently indicated?
- If so, when did they discuss it? When did they vote on it?
- How much will it cost to build?
- How much would a bond issue be?
- What is Grenada’s current total bonding obligation?
How much bond debt possibility does Grenada have left? (State law limits the total bonded indebtedness a city or county can have, based on assessed real estate valuation.)
- How much will it increase taxes to repay the bond issue?
- If they plan to use an increased tourism tax, how much? What products will be affected? Prepared food? Liquor? Beer? Hotel rooms?
- How much will the facility cost to operate?
- How much will it increase taxes in order to cover annual operating expenses?
- If it is to have regional draw for events, where are our competitors? What are their facilities like?
- Will the complex produce any revenue to the city? If so, how much?
- Will the complex generate revenue for retailers? If so, how much?
- How much revenue does our present city sports complex (Flowers-Perry Park) produce?
- How much does the Flowers-Perry facility cost to operate?
- Will Flowers-Perry continue to operate after the new facility is built?
- What will be at the new sports complex? Soccer fields? Baseball fields? Tennis courts? Indoor Basketball? Swimming pools?
- What are the results of the feasibility study?
The council now operates the Dogwoods Golf Course at an annual expense of $200,000 or more. After this newspaper filed a Freedom of Information request — which we had to take all the way to the Mississippi Ethics Commission — it was discovered that the city council has no idea what it will take to operate the Lewis Johnson Senior Citizens’ Center.
And, let’s not forget, the city’s general fund is still $1 million in the red.
(More comments on this subject in the next edition of the GrenadaStar).