Why does the city need to subsidize the NRC with hundreds of thousands of dollars? Whenever the NRC was discussed, even as recently as the end of July, there were loud denunciations every time I suggested that the NRC would be subsidized by the City. Administrator Lewis clearly told a member of the public at a city council meeting that the city would not and could not give the NRC its utility lines for free, and that the city would not subsidize the NRC. Various members of the council have echoed this position. Now we find out that the city is doing exactly what it said it would not do.
The city is giving the NRC hundreds of thousands of dollars in subsidy. The city is giving the NRC land that the NRC will sell to raise money. The city could sell that land and put the money into the general fund, but instead will just give to the NRC. According to Jack Lewis the NRC will sell the land and use the money to pay for the water and sewer lines to the property. No numbers have been released, but 15 acres in the city of Salida has to be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
There has been no discussion of why and how the financials of the 6320 have deteriorated so badly and so quickly. What was unthinkable just weeks ago – a direct subsidy to the NRC by the city – is now such a given that there is no discussion of it. What went wrong? Were the financials screwed up in the first place, and we just figured it out? Did something terrible happen in the last few weeks? Was this the plan all along?
The trouble with this subsidy is the way it is being done. We aren’t told how much it is. It is not going through the regular process for people who want money from the city. There are many projects and organizations that provide services to the citizens and businesses of Salida, and they often look to the City for monetary help: Neighbor to Neighbor, the Chaffee Housing Trust, the People’s Clinic, the community center, SBA, even the airport. All of these organizations could use 15 acres of city land to sell to raise money for their worthy endeavours. They are instead forced to compete with each other and with the normal and regular operations of the city for a finite amount of money through the regular public budgeting process. And from experience, I can tell you there is often a great deal of scrutiny of the organizations, their budgets and plans, and a weighing of the benefit of the service they provide.
Not so the NRC – which is given hundreds of thousands of dollars with no questions asked and no discussion, so far, of why it is suddenly necessary to provide a subsidy to a project we were told would not need one. No discussion of an amount. No weighing of the benefits, if any, provided to the citizens of the city. No comparison of what else might be done with that money. No balancing against the identified need for new police cars, fire trucks or infrastructure improvements.
Everyone who is in a position to know is silent on the sudden and desperate need for a subsidy to make the NRC a viable project. The only way to even try to get an answer is through the city council.
Is anyone willing to show up on September 13 and ask why we should subsidize the NRC in this way, or what happened to make the subsidy necessary? Is the NRC willing to at least have open meetings and open books in exchange for the subsidy, or will they continue to operate in the back room? I guess we will find out onTuesday (Sept 13, see below).