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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Lessons Never Learned



I looked at the Hickory Daily Record poll related to the Glorified Sidewalk along Main Avenue and the Railroad track that they are proposing to spend $27.5 million on. I told you during the election that Hickory Inc. is going to raise your taxes. They said so on May 21, 2013 at the Hickory City Council meeting..

Here are some points:

1) Remember that the Mayor said that the number being talked about was $80 million for beautification -- He said it at a Democrat meeting. I think he thought they would be receptive, because that's how the Fox News disciples think. Republicans automatically against spending money. Democrats automatically for spending money.

2) Look at the chart above. Former Alder Sally Fox said let's raise taxes now and let's fund Inspiring Spaces now. I appreciated her courage and her honesty. The others hemmed and hawed, because they were running for re-election. I think Sally knew she wasn't going to run. Those that were going to run knew that in Hickory, NC that they could not run on a tax increase. They wanted to keep it as hush-hush as possible. They should have been pushed on their obvious scheme. I tried. Oh well!

On that night, City Manager Mick Berry is saying they will need 1.5 cents for expected losses of Revenue and Operational Increases. They need at least 1-cent to repave the roads. And he talks about a three-pronged Economic Competitiveness plan and proposes that they need 4-cents for Hickory's portion of Innovate Catawba's Sites and Building plan plus Redevelopment plus Inspiring Spaces.

Here's the kicker. Mr. Berry lowballed his estimates. Look at those numbers:

4-cents for Hickory's portion of Innovate Catawba's Sites and Building plan plus Redevelopment plus Inspiring Spaces. He proposes $20 million for all of that. Now Hickory Inc. has come forward and they are asking for $27.5 million for just one project of one portion of their Economic Competitiveness plan. Do you see that this doesn't add up?

So, how much does that increase that "necessary" property tax increase? Absolutely more than 4-cents. And please remember that on their last project, they said that the Structure on Union Square was going to cost $285,000 and it ended up costing (what they will admit to) nearly $500,000. If they say this project is going to cost $27.5 million, then how much is it really going to cost?

You can see that to do what is proposed, your property tax is going up by at least 10-cents per $100.

3) Andrea Surratt, who has been in charge of this process, initially said that this plan was about jobs and population growth, but the only things we have heard mentioned are revitalized infrastructure.  I have been told that the Inspiring Spaces Advisory Committee had no input on this Main Street Project and they were surprised when City Staff came forward with it and yet we are told back on July 9, 2013 that the advisory committee is prioritizing the projects.

I am going through my files to pinpoint the remark. At one point, during the beginning of this process and along the time the structure on Union Square was being completed, Ms. Surratt said that this (Inspiring Spaces Project)  wasn't about Downtown; that Downtown had just been focused on with "the Sails" project. They were looking to redevelop and uplift other areas of the city -- this link points to where she said something along those lines - Highland Recreation Center meeting about Inspiring Spaces - November 13, 2012. 

What do you call this project? It is yet another focus on Downtown. I will be magnanimous by saying this was disingenuous.

The Hound:  Most of the RINOs, the DINOs, and the TPINOs all got together and re-elected the Status Quo back in November. These people don't understand the constructs and principles of their parties. It's just about a convenience and the contest. Everyone forgets about the governance part. 

I've heard people grousing and grumbling around here for years about the lack of direction, but they don't do anything to change their circumstances. Frankly, I'm tired of it. I've spent a lot of time over the years pointing out pure and simple reality. The bottom line is there is no accountability around here and there is a lot of nasty, lowball, petty politics. It sure isn't the stomping grounds of intellectuals, that's for sure.

It doesn't matter if 80% of the people are against it, these people, as far as I can tell, are going to build this sidewalk no matter what; just like they did their "Sails on the Square". Whether they pass the bond referendum or not, they are going to build this $27.5 million sidewalk. If the referendum does not pass, then they will have to do it piece meal. That means a little bit at a time for you devout worshipers of party politics. Taxes are going up no matter what.

If changing the way things are is Liberal, then I am guilty. If maintaining the Status Quo and doing the same things over and over again and hoping for a better result is Conservative, then I want nothing to do with it. We gave you a platform to get this whole community moving and it was rejected. You voted for "We're gonna do whatever we want and if you don't like it tough." Enjoy.

P.S. And I don't hate Hickory. The things I love are my family, God, loyal friends, freshness, fresh food, the ocean, mountain streams, underdogs, selflessness, hardworking ordinary people, justice, honor, integrity, intellectuality...

And I hate everything that is the opposite of that.

2 comments:

talferris said...

Spot on. Well stated.

Harry Hipps said...

The whole idea and premise that spending this money seems way off to me. The idea is that if we spend this money we'll feel good and soon our optimism will lead to job growth and all will be well.
The things that are holding us back, in my opinion, are an undereducated population, weak corporate leadership in investing and promoting this area, poor Hickory government (county and Conover aren't as (feckless), a poor and amateurish local media, and a culture that fears change, is totally risk averse, and therefore lacks entrepreneurial spark.
While I don't oppose all the named proposed projects, the Council's priorities and scope will fail in the stated objective of creating job growth, lead to higher taxes, and grease the usual skids.
Rudy and Co's job creating record has been dismal and I fear we are in for some more of the same.
Macroeconomic relief and pure luck is about all we can hope for to bring any incremental relief.