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Monday, Aug. 18, 2008| On the face of it, the argument for building a new City Hall looks compelling. The place doesn’t meet fire codes, it’s much too small (witness the $11 million paid annually for rental space), it would allow City departments to rub elbows, etc.

However, beware the financials. The last time a city official said I was going to get a new building and it would actually cost nothing or even save money was when Susan Golding sold us a new ballpark. Remember the pitch? All the new hotels built as a result of the “redevelopment” would generate so much additional revenue from transient occupancy taxes, it would not only easily meet the debt payments on the bonds, it might even finance a new main library! When last seen the city had refinanced the bonds at a lower rate, and it was only draining $11 million annually from the general fund. And the library? Enough said about that.

Please, let’s do an independent audit on these numbers before we sign up. I’m not very smart, but I am very skeptical. Where do the troops go while they’re building the thing, and what does that cost up front, not spread over five years? And why a five-year-projection? The current building isn’t that old. Can it be to make the numbers look better? Be afraid, taxpayers. Be VERY afraid.

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