Thoughtful, cautious approach to levy sought

To the Editor:

We’re concerned with city council’s rushed process concerning Operation Recreation 2020’s levy proposal, which requested a $7.5 million levy for ball diamonds and soccer fields at Duke Park, a driving range and updated club house at Miami Shores, and renovations at the Senior Citizen Center. Council received the request two days before a workshop on April 25, and a week later a millage request for a levy generating $1 million per year for 10 years was passed as an emergency measure on May 2. That’s right, now the levy is for $10 million.

Council seems reluctant to do any independent analysis. In fact, council has repeatedly stated it is Operation Recreation 2020’s job to sell the proposal to the public. Should private organizations be determining the best use of public funds?

Council should evaluate the proposal’s merits and true cost, and not place it in front of the voters until the proposal is fully vetted, especially considering Troy’s track record of operating losses at Miami Shores, Hobart Arena, and the Troy Aquatic Park. We’ve watched Council forge ahead with Treasure Island and Hobart Arena renovations. Shouldn’t Council take a breath and carefully consider the consequences of expanding Troy’s recreational footprint even more? The introduction to Troy’s 2016 Budget states, “Due to the loss of income streams and increases in operating and capital costs, the five year financial forecast appears to be less than ideal. In 2017, our General Fund balance is projected to drop below the reserve rates recommended by national standards.” Does this sound like we should be looking for ways to spend money?

We’ve heard repeatedly that the people deserve a vote on the matter. But is it too much to ask Council to do their due diligence before putting a measure on the ballot? Will groups such as Midwest Baseball and Troy Christian High School pay to use the fields? How will scheduling be handled? Do the reported minimal maintenance costs include increased utility costs, personnel, wear and tear on equipment, maintenance needs of the special playing field for the Miracle League, or maintenance needs for the driving range? Can Council understand why we are skeptical when we’re basically told, “We’ll have to pass the levy to know what’s in it.” We’ve heard that line of reasoning before and it hasn’t worked out so well.

We’re not against the merits of improving the Duke Park complex. We would just like to see a more thoughtful and cautious approach. Council will be hearing the first reading of this proposal at their May 16 meeting at 7 p.m. We encourage you to attend the meeting.

— Ed and Maria Crist


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