Monday, December 10, 2007

City Hall To Be Renovated With Other People's Money

Last year, pieces of the ceiling at City Hall eerily fell down, sparking a discussion on the level of extravagance that should be exercised in the renovation of the historic site.

Although no money has been spent on the renovations, the FY 2008 General Capital Budget allocates $1.2 million for the project.

How the city plans to get the money is an interesting proposition. Herb McMillan fancies quoting Ronald Reagan when discussing fiscal policy, professing that "government should be funded through the strength of the people". Let's take a look at how this applies.

The first $400,000 of the city hall renovations is to come from bond funds, which is fine by me. Renovations done now will certainly benefit future Annapolitans, and bond (term) financing is the classic way to make future generations pay their fair share.

The other $800,000 is what the fuss is about. The city plans to get the other $800,000 from "non city funds", meaning grants or transfers from other governmental jurisdictions. Annoyingly enough, City Hall does not enjoy the same National Historic Landmark Distinction as some other buildings within city limits:
"The irony of all ironies, is City Hall is not a designated building so we
didn't get a grant," said Mayor Ellen O. Moyer about a recent application for
renovation funding. "So we're trying to secure historic designation for the
building and re-filing for the grant."

The hope is to qualify the city for a specific grant, but the lion's share of the funding is still uncertain. The Capital reports that only $55,000 of the $800,000 in grant money has been obtained, and I can't imagine that this particular grant will be much bigger.

While I appreciate the obvious need to have structurally sound government buildings, I question whether it would cost $1.2 million. And what if we can't get the grants--is the money just going to be collected from taxes? The city council seems to have now system for prioritizing which things are worthy of receiving millions of dollars in funding--they give the money for everything!

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