What will the Granite Knolls sports complex end up costing taxpayers? The numbers keep changing, both for the construction of the complex as well where the money to pay the bills will come from. It’s time for some openness, transparency—and honesty.
First, the cost. The truth is we simply aren’t being told what the complex will cost. And we don’t know if Supervisor Michael Grace knows more than he’s telling us. The phase one $3.85 million bid the town board awarded will only “prepare” the site for a 90-foot baseball field and two multi-purpose fields; additional funds will have to be spent (phase two) before the three fields are complete with artificial turf, lighting, and at least one building. (Without identifying these extra costs, Supervisor Grace recently called them “amenities.”)
The supervisor first said these phase two extras would cost between $300,000 and $400,000. Then, he said $600,000 to $1 million. What will the next estimate be? What are we to believe?
Before proceeding with Granite Knolls, taxpayers, including those who support the project, are entitled to honest numbers. Surely, someone in town hall has already researched the likely cost of these “extras.” It would be the height of fiscal irresponsibility not to have done so. And the height of calculated deception to have the cost numbers but not share them with taxpayers.
Which leads to the next question: Where will the money come from? Again, it’s an issue of transparency and honesty.
For years, Supervisor Grace has been telling us that Granite Knolls would be built “at no cost to the taxpayers.” But on July 11, he had a different message. He acknowledged that taxpayers would have to foot “a portion” of the bill; since July 11, that portion has increased from a possible $300,000 to a possible $1 million, and the supervisor is now saying that the $1.5 million Spectra gave the town in 2015 can be used to supplement the company’s second payment of $4.6 million.
Make no mistake about it: the $1.5 million is taxpayer money. Your money. When Spectra’s $1.5 million check was deposited in the town’s bank account, it became the taxpayers’ money, money that could have been used in 2015 or 2016—but wasn’t—for road paving or other needed infrastructure improvements. The town board NEVER earmarked the $1.5 million for Granite Knolls—or any other project. The money sat there unused in the fund balance. It’s only now, when it looks like Granite Knolls will cost more than $4.6 million, that Supervisor Grace appears ready to use taxpayer dollars in the fund balance so that one of his pet projects can become a reality.
Whether or not taxpayers support or oppose Granite Knolls, first and foremost is the issue of transparency and honesty. If Supervisor Grace believes the town should proceed with Granite Knolls, he needs to be truthful about what the complex will cost and how it will be financed. And before spending that money, he needs to have an open dialogue with ALL taxpayers about the priorities for spending their money.