Yesterday, I took the time to appear before the Midland City Council and I challenged them on why they wanted to add $39 million to our current $138 million debt by building a new city center. Note: At the time, the council had not taken a final vote on which option to pursue. In fairness to the council, I chose a lower number to illustrate my point. But now it appears the council wants to spend $42.5 million on a new city center.
This $42.5 million is intended for a new city center that would last at most 30 years and probably barely cover its own maintenance and operations costs by the fees it charges for its’ use.
I was saddened to see that I was the only one to address the City Council one way or the other on this matter. If you read my comments and you agree with me, please call your city leaders and let them know that you want them to put the brakes on this boondoggle.
Below are my comments assuming that the council was going to go with a lower project estimate.
My name is Nelson Spear. I live at 7010 Almey Ct., Midland, Texas.
I come to you and challenge you on your reasoning on spending $39 million on a new Midland Center.
Sometimes I feel like that priest who kept giving the same sermon five Sundays in a row. Finally some of his parishioners spoke up and said something to him. On the sixth Sunday, he started his Sermon by stating that “I understand that some of you are upset that I have given the same sermon five Sunday’s in a row.” There were a few Amens. The priest continued, “I hesitate to give you all new material until you have finished chewing on what I have already given you to eat.”
With that said, I once again I point out that, many of us have been urging all of our elected officials to pay down government debt especially in the years that the income is blowing and growing. Indeed, most of you ran on fiscal conservative and transparency platforms.
As some of us know, Midland’s current debt is almost $138 million.
Out of all Texas municipalities, Midland currently ranks Forty-Fourth out of 1,216 municipalities in overall debt.
If you add the $39 million projected debt to the current debt, Midland’s rank for debt goes from Forty-Forth to Twenty-Ninth for a debt of $177 million. These numbers come directly from the state comptroller.
- That is a debt of about $1,380 per person in the city.
- That is a 28% increase in debt.
- This is for a project that will not generate actual income to offset its actual cost
Also, you all are talking about another $33 million in certificate of obligation projects that you want to do.
As a reminder, in 2007, I was a part of the ad hoc committee that looked at the replacement of the Midland Center then. There were a couple of issues that I pointed out then:
1. That plan called for the use of eminent domain. If the current plan involves the use of the eminent domain, I am going to be pretty upset about that.
2. The cost of the plan then would have required 18,000 visitors per year to generate the income necessary just to pay for the project. I got to that figure by taking the $39 million project and giving it a 30-year life.
Please delay your spending plans on this project.
Thank you again for allowing me to speak to you today.
Here is how you contact your city leaders.
John B. Love III