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One of Mayor Jerry Sanders’ principle campaign talking points has been that he’s increased infrastructure funding by more than 4,000 percent since taking office, but the funding that’s been proposed to cover that isn’t a sure thing.
In fact, the majority of those funds would come from a bond proposal that failed to garner enough council votes this week and will have to head back to council for a second try April 22.
But, despite the fact that the city doesn’t have the money yet, the mayor has spoken in the past tense when describing his infrastructure investment.
“We increased funding for deferred maintenance and infrastructure by over 4,000 percent,” he says in one of his radio advertisements.
The bond ran into trouble this week when questions were raised on the prudence of doing an adjustable-rate bond in the wake of the housing crisis and credit crunch. The vote was 5-3 in favor of the plan, but six votes were needed for its approval. Councilwoman Donna Frye voted against the project because of its financing plan, while Council members Toni Atkins and Tony Young expressed concerns about where the bond proceeds would be spent.
The Sanders administration has proposed spending $107.2 million on infrastructure and deferred maintenance in the coming fiscal year. It says that the city spend only $2.3 million in that area when Sanders came into office in fiscal year 2006, claiming a 4,467 percent increase.
But a lion’s share of the money that is supposed to go to infrastructure funding this year, fiscal year 2008, and next year comes from the bond that failed this week. This year, $24.8 million of the planned $38.4 million would come from the bond, as would $77.5 million of the $107.2 million slated for fiscal year 2009.
If the bond doesn’t go through, the increase in infrastructure funding would still be substantial — 1,191 percent by my calculations. But it wouldn’t be anywhere near 4,000 percent.
“It would affect it considerably,” Sanders spokesman Fred Sainz said of the bond.
I asked Sainz if the mayor should be speaking in the past tense when talking about the 4,000 percent increase on the campaign trail. He said that yes, he should be, because it has been proposed.
Sainz said the hurdle to gaining the sixth vote won’t be a tough one to overcome.