Broke DDA to Spend Money on Another Discretionary Public Works

On the Council agenda is seeking an MEDC grant for partially funding improvements to the Farmer's Market at Valley Court Park.

The proposed project would be a $70,000 project that would include a $35,000 grant. Included in the project would be a plaza with shade structure (which is part of the conceptual master plan for Valley Court Park, attached), wayfindings signs (which would be an expansion of the downtown wayfinding program), repavement of the parking lot where the farmers market is held, and new accessible walkways that would connect the farmers market to parking areas and other amenities in the park.

$35,000 would come from MEDC, matched by the city. $20,000 of the city money is already in the budget for repaving the parking lot. The other $15,000 would come from the DDA's Project Development Fund.

Apparently Council doesn't need to approve.

I will point out that the DDA currently is not paying $60,000 of it obligation for Downtown Maintenance and is probably something over $200,000 short in its obligation to reimburse the Building Fund with University Place TIF. Yet, the DDA continues to be allowed to undertake new projects, as if it has money. Also the DDA should be paying its fair share of public safety, as in Lansing Township, before it undertakes any new projects.

Remember only $30,000 is budgeted from the general for dangerous sidewalks (which will not be made any less dangerous by "crack art").

The compartmentalized finance mentality in city hall continues. Fake the DDA budget, then spend money the DDA does not have on a project that would probably not be acceptable as a priority under the general fund, while there is such a desperate need to take care our neighborhoods and public services, and taking care of neighborhoods and public services would provide a far better return on investment than discretionary improvements for the farmer's market.

There are financial reasons why it would be better to retain the DDA, provided it was brought under democratic control (getting rid of the oligarchs) and its budget was restricted to paying its existing obligations then, when those are met, paying for public safety. But if it continues to be used for low priority public works projects by falsifying its budget, it is time to kill the DDA, instead of hoping to reform it.

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