Pullman residents offer thoughts on bond issueSome thoughts:
Helen Stiller doesn’t envy the decision the Pullman City Council will have to make in less than a week.
The Council will have to decide whether it should spend $2 million from a bond issue proposed for the November general election on city infrastructure or on special projects designed to enhance the city’s attractiveness and quality of life.
The Council took its last round of public testimony on the bond issue at its meeting Tuesday night.
Several people came to show their support for various projects proposed for the bond, but no consensus could be gleaned from those who spoke.
Some people supported adding to the city’s trail system. Others talked about the benefits of an outdoor arts pavilion in Sunnyside Park or a spray pool at Reaney Park. Some residents want to use the money to repair some of the city’s worst streets and replace aging public restrooms in city parks.
The beginning of a controversy was brewed when Stiller, a former councilwoman, raised the question whether bond money should be spent on something many would consider a city obligation. Stiller’s question was echoed in numerous written comments e-mailed to the city before the meeting.
At issue is how the city defines the purpose of the bond. Members of the Pullman Civic Trust, which has proposed pathways totaling more than $1.2 million, want the bond to be a continuation of the 1998 bond issue that paid for paths and greenways in town.
The 1998 bond will expire in 2008, giving the city the opportunity to fund between $2.1 and $2.25 million in new projects without raising property taxes.
The money should be used to finish what the city started in 1998, said Pullman Civic Trust President Kathleen Bodley.
Others see projects like the pathways as luxuries that should be lower priorities than streets and infrastructure.
“Some of our streets are in a sad state of repair,” resident Stan Buckley said. “Every citizen uses the streets. ... I think we need to think about the day-to-day needs of every citizen.”
Buckley also noted the poor condition of public restrooms in the city parks and cemeteries. Councilman Barney Waldrop agreed something needed to be done about the restrooms, characterizing them as an “embarrassment.”
Most people would agree more money needs to be spent on city infrastructure, but they might disagree on the source of the money to pay for it.
The city budget has been tight for several years, with little money available for capital projects. The bond issue is the city’s chance to do projects it otherwise couldn’t afford in its regular budget.
Councilman Bill Paul said he’s spoken to people who thought streets should be paid for with their tax dollars rather than bond money.
With tax dollars already stretched to the limit, the Council will have to find other ways to pay for street repairs and restrooms if bond money is allocated to other projects.
If bond money is used for street repairs and restroom upgrades, it won’t be available for special projects such as the arts pavilion, trails or spray pool that many residents believe would add to the quality of life in Pullman and attract visitors from out of town.
Other proposals also were tinged with some form of controversy.
If the city chooses to build the spray pool, it would lose the lap pool at Reaney Park. Stiller spoke out against the idea of moving lap swimmers to the Pullman Aquatic Center, noting she enjoys the chance to swim outdoors in the summer.
The Council will make a final decision on which projects to include in the bond issue at its next meeting at 7:30 p.m., Tuesday in the Council Chambers at City Hall.
Comments on the bond issue can be e-mailed to the city at email@example.com with “Bond Issue” in the subject line, or mailed to Mayor Glenn Johnson, 325 SE Paradise St., Pullman, WA 99163.
The Pullman City Council took public testimony on a $2 million bond issue proposed for the November ballot. Residents spoke in favor of their favorite projects, including walking trails, a spray park at Reaney Pool and an outdoor arts pavilion in Sunnyside Park. Some residents thought the money should be used for infrastructure such as streets and decaying restrooms in city parks.
What it means
The city budget has been tight for several years, and the city hasn’t had money for capital projects. The bond issue is the city’s chance to do projects it otherwise couldn’t afford in its regular budget.
The City Council will make a final decision on which projects to include in the bond at its next meeting at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Council Chambers at City Hall.
Why you should care
One question raised is whether bond money should be used to maintain city infrastructure, or if those projects should be supported by general tax revenues. Many Pullman streets are in bad condition and need repairs. Many people agree the public restrooms in parks also need to be repaired or replaced. If bond money is used for street repairs and restroom upgrades, it won’t be available for special projects like the arts pavilion, trails or spray park that many residents believe are valuable.
Thursday, August 24, 2006
Boulevard of Broken Dreams
From yesterday's Moscow-Pullman Daily News:
How is bond money NOT tax money? Homeowners pay about 32 cents per $1000 of assessed value for the 1998 bond, or about $48 per year for a $150000 home. Without a bond, our property taxes would go down. The previous bond paid for a new gym at Sunnyside Elementary. Was that not a "city obligation" also? I don't see the difference between school facilities and streets. The city is slowly going broke. We're going to have dip into $500,000 in cash reserves to balance the budget and at this rate, our reserves will be exhausted by 2009. Is this really the time to be spending on non-essesntial projects? WSDOT is tapped out. Even after the latest gas tax increases, they are $38 billion in the hole. Can anyone possibly imagine little old Pullman in Eastern Washington getting any major help from the state for street projects? If private organizations are so enamored with the band shell and the paths, let them raise the money. Why is that the city's sole responsibility? Better yet, why don't we see some of these civic groups out banging the drum for Wal-Mart? A Wal-Mart Supercenter in ONE year would generate enough tax reevenue to fund the paths, or the band shell, or the spray pool. You simply can't have it all. You want the niceties, you have to put up with some growth. You don't want to grow, then be prepared to drive to Coeur d'Alene (which IS growing) for outdoor concerts. It's simple. It's all about economic choices and consequences. For that matter, where is PARD in all this? They are supposedly oh so concerned about all the "heavy" traffic in Pullman, the safety of Kindergarteners and Grandmas, people stroking out while stuck in traffic jams on the way to the hospital, and Dilke, Crestview and High Streets desperately needing repair. Why don't they weigh in on behalf of street projects? I publicly challenge them to do so. It would prove to the world that all their concerns over traffic are not just cynical ploys just to keep Wal-Mart out. I'll go hold my breath now and wait. Please revive me when I pass out. I reiterate my previous call: STREETS FIRST What other reasonable choice do we have?